Some serious issues confronted Spring Grove School Board members on Dec. 17. In light of the tragic shooting in Connecticut, Superintendent Rachel Udstuen asked the board if they wanted to begin locking the front door during classroom hours.

"We just reviewed our crisis policy in July and didn't make a lot of changes to it," Udstuen said. "We're going to review it again in January, and I think there are some changes that we probably will make."

"One of the things that I am going recommend is about our front door - we have not locked our front door so that people would have to buzz in and wait to be let in the building.

"In light of what's happened, I think it's a really good move for us to have that front door locked. I don't think that there's anyone who would question why we're doing that."

Board members didn't make a motion to lock the door, but decided by consensus that Udstuen could initiate the action at any time she saw fit.

They discussed entry issues and noted the need to pay close attention to what other Minnesota schools come up with prior to January's review of their crisis policy.

All entries are covered by security cameras, members noted. Making sure that office staff can always keep track of those devices was discussed, along with the possibility of establishing an entryway or reception area that will be open to visitors while the door to the hallway itself remains locked.

None of the members said they were opposed to denying access for those without proper clearance.

Myrah's posting discussed

With board member Christian Myrah leaving for Afghanistan soon, the board briefly considered whether or not they would have to appoint a replacement.

"We cannot appoint anyone until the seat is vacant," Udstuen said. "That will depend on what things are like when you get over to Afghanistan. You might be able to do some stuff with Skype, so I think the plan right now is to wait and see."

Myrah replied, "We've talked about what the state regulations are, whether it has to be Skype or if it can be teleconference if the video is not available for one reason or another."

Director Eric Bjerke noted that as long as Skype participation is allowed under school policy, it's permitted by the state.

"I'm waiting on some info from a guy that's over there where I'll be, just to see what kind of a setup they'll have," Myrah concluded.

Bullying education planned

School counselor Scott Solberg reported on the development of a bullying education and prevention program.

"It's not going to be a 30-minute program that is going to fix bullying," he said. "It's a pattern of behavior... with a power differential involved."

"Right now, it doesn't appear that this is a red-flag issue," Solberg said, citing survey results from the district.

Teaching both kids and parents about the problem will be part of the program, he stated.

Other news from the board

The board voted to hire Tory-Kale Schultz as assistant varsity/ JV softball coach.

Band instructor Andrea Brownlee spoke with the board about the possibility of a music trip to Florida in either 2014 or 2015. No decision was made, but the topic will be back on the agenda in January.

Board members voted to empower Udstuen to decide whether or not to sign a proposal to lease a new Xerox machine that includes scan/fax to email and purportedly will make color copies for less.

She was asked to make inquiries from competing providers before signing a new lease agreement.

The board also voted to purchase new "ultra mat" gym pads for both the game gym and practice gym.

The cost is $7,650 for the former and $1,948 for the latter. They will be paid for from three sources. One third of the cost will be picked up by a community contribution fund, one-third by the booster club and one-third by the district.

Directors formally voted to recognize Dana Kjome and Evonne Morken for the AEW Citizens Recognition Award.

An open enrollment request for tenth-grader Jacob Rogich from Mabel-Canton was approved.

Another open enrollment request was also approved for a special-education student. School privacy policy prevents naming the second enrollee.