ACGC falcons

The years 2020 and 2021 saw numerous changes for Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City Schools, and May was no exception. The ACGC Board learned Monday that recent changes involve more “opening up” compared to last year’s “shutting down” of activities.

For example, although some restrictions remain, the graduation ceremony was moved back inside instead of outdoors as happened in 2020. A car parade through the district’s three small cities will take place again, but the route has been modified; check the district’s website for details.

Standardized testing was delayed this spring compared to most years, but High School/Middle School Principal Robin Wall reported that testing was completed by the third week of May.

Other changes include the lifting of mask mandates during after-school hours and expanded summer school and summer recreation programs (discussed in detail at the April board meeting.)

Enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year is on track to be about the same as this year. Principals are working with families who chose to have their children in distance learning all year to assist them with next fall. Community Education and Activities Director Marj Mauer reported that preschool enrollment is filling up, with only a few slots left for next fall’s classes.

A few personnel changes were made. Emma Asche was hired as grade 5-8 reading specialist; she is a recent college graduate who has done substitute teaching in the district. Jason Northrup was hired as a school counselor; he has experience as an alternative teacher, social worker and dean of students in other districts.

The board approved an unpaid leave of absence for teacher Lora Larson who, due to recent personal obligations, won’t be able to teach in the fall. The district will hire a replacement for at least the next school year. A final personnel matter was hiring Jeremy Boeyink, Tyler Bulau and Caitlin Wheeler for part-time summer custodial work.

Superintendent Nels Onstad updated the board on several items: He said that more than $120,000 in extra aid from federal and state governments will be “very helpful in covering the cost” of nine weeks of enriched summer school programming this summer. He noted that, thanks to other emergency funds, families may pick up meals in each of the district’s three cities once a week during the summer months.

The district also anticipates saving more than $4,000 in Workers Compensation insurance by switching to another provider.

Onstad also told the board about upcoming summer maintenance projects and progress in transferring the district’s Cosmos property to the Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative.

He also noted that, during a special board workshop at 6 p.m. June 14., the district’s strategic planning consultant would present a progress report and Business Manager Wendy Holle is expected to review details of a proposed 2021-2022 budget. Any decisions on these matters would be made at future regular board meetings on the fourth Monday evening of each month.

A final order of business was approving an Adult Basic Education agreement with the Willmar School District.

Before adjourning the May board meeting, Board Chair Megan Morrison thanked the staff and board members for their contributions during this difficult school year.