At Monday’s Board of Education meeting, principal Andy Armstead said this year’s start had a different look. Teachers took a few days get students into a “back to school” mode. They are preparing themselves and students for any technology-emphasized learning that may have to take place should the school go into closure. Teachers have also been identifying any gaps in learning that students may have experienced in the last year and finding corrective measures to close them. There are 24 students currently using the remote-learning platform , with 20 of them long-term. Armstead said that paraprofessional Suzanne Sinclair, the remote learning coordinator is doing a good job. “She is very organized,” he commented. He noted that the other paraprofessional have taken on more responsibilities as well.
Armstead said they have had a successful start to sports season. The homecoming football game is scheduled for Sept. 25, with coronation Sept. 24. This event will be livestreamed. This year there will be no noon homecoming activities during the week. Instead of a pep fest on Calumet Avenue, there is a parade scheduled this year with a pep fest to be held in the armory following the parade. Armstead said the FFA kicks off their year by hosting land-judging on Thursday.
Superintendent Abi Van Regenmorter stated that third-grade teacher Taci Boldt’s last day of teaching before her military deployment was this week. The students had a send-off for her and are looking for her return. She also reported that students are now being served a fresh fruit or vegetable each afternoon.
The De Smet school district is part of the Northeast Education Services Cooperative (NESC) which provides early childhood identification and special education services. At Monday’s meeting, Barb Asleson, the NESC representative from the De Smet School Board, reported that the Oldham-Ramona school district had joined the cooperative in July.
VanRegenmorter reported the state fire marshal did the yearly inspection last week, and there were a few things that will need to be done but they won’t be able to be completed until the building is remodeled.
Business manager Susan Purintun reviewed the proposed fiscal year 2021 budget. After some discussion, it was adopted.
This year, because of COVID-19, the school is not charging admission to sporting events, but they are accepting donations. “The donations are not that great,” Purintun commented. “We did this because we don’t want to expose staff to more than they have to be, but we’re not opposed to people donating.”
The board briefly discussed the payroll tax deferment proposed by President Trump.
“They still have to pay it back plus interest,” Purintun said. Board president Shane Roth agreed that there is no benefit. Asleson commented that it is just putting off the inevitable. Purintun said she has not had any employees ask for it, and since she doesn’t have the software set up to do it, they couldn’t do it even if they wanted to. A motion was passed that the school not participate in the deferment.
Last year’s music trip to New York and Washington D.C. had to be canceled because of COVID-19, but it has been rescheduled to take place next spring. Van Regenmorter said that because last year’s seniors won’t be going and more space is available, they are considering opening it up to students in grades 7-12 who may not in the music program. “It’s an odd situation we are in. There may even be spots for parents,” she said. Van Regenmorter stated the tour company advised they should not plan to go to New York City but Washington D.C. may be okay, along with an eight-hour trip from there to Nashville. But, she said, D.C. is still questionable, so the destination is still to be determined. Students who plan to go but have not done any fundraising so far will be responsible for raising money for their portion of the trip. There will be no large-scale fundraising events.
The board approved allowing junior high athletes to participate on the varsity volleyball team if they are needed. There are currently only eight high-school girls on the varsity team, two eighth-graders and five seventh graders. They will not bump up the younger girls unless they are needed. Athletic director Marv McCune said he will talk to coach Vicki Dylla about getting parental approval. The board was reminded that they will be faced with a similar situation when girls’ basketball starts.
The Rev. Jonathon Dolan was in attendance and questioned sports practices being held on Wednesdays when junior-high age student have confirmation classes. After some discussion, counsel consensus was that there would be no practice for junior high athletes on Wednesdays.
Dolan said he appreciates the fact that games can be seen online. He said in his line of work, he is trying to stay away from big crowds. “ I hope you continue to have this available,” he said. “It helps keep community engaged even if they can’t be there.”
The school board then entered into an executive session to discuss personnel matters.