A substantial portion of the Nov. 15 Board of Education meeting centered on sports cooperatives with other area schools. Lake Preston representatives have met with representatives from Arlington, De Smet and Iroquois. Lake Preston has been in a football co-op and a comp cheer co-op with Arlington for several years. Recently, there has been some controversy about the football pairing, with not all of the Arlington Board members on board with it.
Lake Preston does not have the numbers needed and is looking to partner with another school in all girls' and boys' sports.
The De Smet school will allow Lake Preston girls who are in grades 9-12 to play on their varsity basketball team this year if there are not enough Lake Preston girls to form a team, but it would not be a co-op. The Lake Preston girls would simply be allowed to play on the De Smet Lady Bulldogs team.
Although Iroquois is 23 miles from Lake Preston and is currently in a sports co-op with Doland, Superintendent Dana Felderman said that school was the most open to working with them on a 50-50 co-op.
Board member Brett Anderson agreed. "It felt like we were talking with ourselves with Iroquois,” he said. “We were on the same page.”
He commented that they could get the students involved deciding on things like a mascot and school colors, and that it could be fun for the kids.
“Would we go with the main colors of orange and blue, or go with whole new colors?” he queried. “Would we be Lake Preston-Iroquois or Iroquois-Lake Preston? Those things would have to be ironed out.”
Anderson also stressed that each kid deserves their own parents’ night and their own homecoming. He also mentioned the idea of combining activities such as oral interpretation and art.
Business Manager Kristi Curd said Iroquois is interested in all the students and praised their current agreement with Doland.
Board member Steve Carlson commented that this may be the only option that allows Lake Preston to keep their identity.
The board discussed the importance of being fair and doing what is best for both towns.
Felderman recommended that the school apply for a clean diesel grant that could be used toward the purchase of a new school bus. He said one of their buses is “a lemon” and has not been used much. Board member Megan Eichler later expressed concern about the amount of money being proposed, including buses, windows and a new sidewalk. Felderman said they should keep upgrading the fleet, and that the busses are always at Prairie Ag (because they need repairs); there is a grant available. The board approved applying for the grant. That does not mean they have to take it.
Another projected expense is a boiler that has a leak and needs to be repaired. Felderman said they are going to “limp along” until Thanksgiving break and have repairs made then.
The 2022-23 school calendar was discussed, with the first day of school scheduled for Aug. 18. The board also tossed around some ideas regarding what days the students should have off during the year.
Board member Megan Eichler said she has concerns about the number of Teacher Inservice meetings that are held, resulting in students being dismissed at 2 p.m.
“Are they beneficial enough to take that time away from the kids?” she asked.
Felderman said they have already taken away some but want to keep as many as they can. “They really are relevant,” he stated.
“I’ve been barking about this for many years,” board member Steve Carlson stated. “I’m with Megan. I feel like we are educating teachers instead of students.”
Teacher Lynn Brown said she has been there long enough to know that the meetings are needed and beneficial. Jerod Olson suggested adding a day to the calendar.
“I think you need time for meetings,” Olson said.
Felderman reiterated that they are working to make all of the meetings relevant.
The Board heard a request from Wade Hoefert, president of Prairie Lakes Pheasants. The organization supports such things as youth hunter safety courses and improved habitat in this area. Hoefert said his organization is looking for a larger place to hold their annual pheasant banquet and inquired about using the gymnasium.
The event is held on the third Saturday in October, the opening weekend of pheasant hunting season each year. It began in the former supper club and was later moved to the Lake Preston Fire Hall. According to Hoefert, it has grown immensely, and they need to find a bigger space. He commented that people have suggested they use the De Smet Event Center but explained that it started in Lake Preston, and they want to keep it in town.
Hoefert, who is also a Kingsbury County deputy sheriff, stated since he is in law enforcement, he realizes that two things they do not want in the school are guns and alcohol (two things that factor into this event.) He wondered if they can block off the gym from the rest of the school building.
“I want to get your guys’ feelings on it,” Hoefert said.
Anderson asked if they would be willing to pay for the insurance for the event, and Hoefert responded that sounded reasonable. Felderman said he is more supportive than not of the idea, and if they proceed with it, there will not be open gym or any other school activities held at the school that weekend. The board will discuss it further with the school attorney and insurance agent.
In a related matter, sixth graders will have an opportunity to participate in a two-week hunter safety course taught by Karley Hall, the ag teacher. There will be no guns or live ammunition used in the school, and there will be something else available during those two weeks for students who either do not want to take part or who have parents who would rather not have them participate.
Felderman noted that the recent Veterans Day program “went great” as well as a recent fundraiser by the Lake Preston Higher Education Foundation
It was noted that the student council is hosting a blood drive on Dec. 8, and if they reach their goal, one of the student council members will receive a $500 scholarship.
After an executive session, the board made and approved the following actions:
Accept the resignation of Josh Warne as head girls basketball coach, effective immediately. Promote Brenna Wendland to head girls basketball coach. Hire Carter Malone as assistant girls basketball coach. Hire Steve Carlson as middle school girls basketball coach. Accept the contract of Cortney Hentges as teacher beginning at the start of the second semester. She will fill the vacant art teacher position and assist in other areas as well.
The next regular meeting will be held at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 13 in the superintendent's conference room. The change from the regular time is because of a basketball game scheduled that evening.
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