The July 26 meeting of the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School Board featured a pared-down board and a pared-down agenda.
In the absence of the chair, vice-chair and treasurer, Board Clerk Jeanna Lilleberg led the three remaining board members in conducting essential midsummer business.
A 10-year capital projects plan was adopted. Masonry work at the elementary school and two costly roof section replacements were the primary expenses anticipated over the next decade. Business Manager Wendy Holle showed how the board could fund these projects using regular state-and-operating levy-allotted health and safety monies: earmarking the funds in reserves for a few years, then spending them down. The projects on the list consisted primarily of basic maintenance needs and health and safety improvements.
Appreciation for diversity expressed
Paula U. Halvorson of Atwater spoke briefly to the board during the Public Comment period, commending those staff, administrators and board members who are open to teaching in different ways and to presenting new information.
A licensed educator (Halvorson has taught in other districts but not ACGC), she expressed support for all students, regardless of race, religious creed, ethnic background, gender or disability, and encouraged the board and staff to do the same.
“Please do not allow loud voices to intimidate you,” she said — an apparent reference to testimony against a concept known as “critical race theory” at the June board meeting.
The board approved hiring three elementary teachers: Mackensie Andrews, Katelyn Powers and Sheila Slagter, an agriculture teacher and FFA adviser, Matthew Frenchick, and paraprofessional Terra Andreoff. The resignations of elementary teacher Paula Dunn and social worker Sarah Reznechek were accepted. The board also approved administrative assistant contracts with Melissa Iverson and Alysia Listerud. Most of these positions were to fill vacancies left by earlier retirements or resignations. Superintendent Nels Onstad explained that there had also been reassignments of duties related to the vacancies.
The board also approved a list of assistant coaches and school musical help; head coaches had been approved last month..
Strategic plan approved
Onstad reviewed the district’s five-year strategic plan, which had been discussed at prior board workshops. It consists of seven core beliefs, and a mission statement of “To work in partnership with our communities to cultivate innovative learners while developing values necessary to soar in a diverse society.”
Goals in the plan focus on student achievement, student/staff support, communications/outreach and financial management.
Among other business
- The school board renewed a contract with Kraft LLC for milk and set school lunch prices for 2021-2022. Holle explained that all students would received free lunches and milk again this year, but the prices are for the adults who purchase school lunch, and for extra milk or entrees, which a few students request.
- The board also renewed its membership in the Minnesota State High School League. Board member Paul Rasmussen explained that the dues are higher this year due to the extracurricular activities organization losing money during the 2020-21 school year by not being able to host state tournaments.
- School hours were set for 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. this year (same as last year), with elementary drop-off time being 7:45-8 a.m. Principal Kodi Goracke explained that entrance door locations will continue to be assigned by grade level, with teachers accompanying their students to the classrooms.
- Activities Director Marj Maurer announced that this year’s musical would be "The Addams Family." She also expressed appreciation for the new air filtering and chilling system at the elementary school. Without it, preschool activities would have needed to be cancelled a couple of days this summer, she said.