Spring Grove Public School Board of Directors began the new year by electing officers for 2014. Aaron Solum will serve as board chairperson once again, while Shannon Schuttemeier will continue as vice-chair. Michelle Borreson will serve as clerk/treasurer.

Director Stephanie Jaster and Schuttemeier were appointed as board members for the Hiawatha Valley Educational District.

Pat Maloney of the law firm of Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney (Minneapolis) was designated as the district's attorney. The board also voted to authorize district accountant Tanya Elton to continue to initiate electronic fund transfers.

As a first step in the budget process, school board members passed a resolution directing the administration to make recommendations for reductions in programs/positions for 2014/15.

Another measure that passed by unanimous vote transferred the remaining dollars from the dormant Spring Grove Student Loan Fund to the Dollars for Scholars program. The balance from the old fund totaled $5,108.

A contract offer for Laura Vatland was approved. Vatland will be able to serve as a long-term substitute for first grade teacher Jill Bjerke. The offer is contingent upon Bjerke taking maternity leave.

Superintendent Rachel Udstuen reported that with a large graduating class this spring, the district might experience a 15-student drop in enrollment next fall.

Principal Nancy Gulbranson said that Giants of the Earth members will present historical programs for elementary students. "It will fit in wonderfully with the immigrant unit that we already do as part of our social studies curriculum," she said. "We haven't decided where it would go, either fourth, fifth, or sixth grades.... The whole premise is that we're all immigrants unless you are a Native American, and then they are going to be talking about that also..."

Gulbranson said that GOE presenters "have gone to great length" to make sure that the material they present is historically accurate, visiting Vesterheim Museum in Decorah and contacting Native American tribes.

A resolution in support of a document entitled "Form B/C" from the Minnesota State High School League Foundation also passed. By endorsing the form, the board allows school administrators to apply for a grant from the MSHSLF. That could take the form of aid to specific athletic or fine arts programs.

Members also noted that paraprofessional recognition week began on Jan. 12. Udstuen reported that paraprofessionals perform in a wide range of positions. This year, Lisa Bornholdt, Lynn Caldwell, Susan Jahnke, Lesa Johnson, Joyce Landsom, Lindsay Mackie, Trisha Myrah, Darla Nerstad, Mona Olson, Lynn Solum and Christopher Thompson have served or will serve as District #297 paraprofessionals.

The "first reading" of the Minnesota School Board Association/Minnesota Association of School Administrators model policy revision for the 2013 legislative session was recorded. There was no discussion on the document.

The board held a closed session to discuss labor negotiations strategy before adjourning.

A tentative schedule of board meetings for 2014 was also approved, comprising the third Monday of each month. The next board meeting will be Feb. 24 at 7 p.m.