At the March 18 meeting of the Board of Education #297, board chair Aaron Solum reported on last month's superintendent review.

Rachel Udstuen met or exceeded expectations in all 10 areas of performance, which her position is responsible for.

A few of those areas include:

• Providing leadership for the school district's programs and curriculum development "to provide the best possible learning environment for students."

• Overseeing all financial operations of the district. Instituting and updating a comprehensive strategic planning process.

• Keeping the school board informed on programs, practices and problems, as well as explaining the educational needs of the district to the board and recommending new and revised policies and staffing changes.

• Delegating responsibility and authority to district employees "as appropriate" and effectively evaluating them.

• And finally, acting as "a liaison between the community and the school district" and responding to the concerns of parents, students, citizens and staff.

Line of credit extended

Board members voted to extend the annual line of credit agreement with Merchant's Bank of Spring Grove.

The limit is $300,000, but district accountant Tanya Elton reported that the school only had to borrow approximately $75,000 last year and with the current system of "metered payments" coming from the state, "We're hoping we may not have to borrow from it at all this year," she said.

"It's for cash-flow purposes only," Elton added. "It costs less than an aid anticipation loan."

On a related note, Udstuen reported that the district has earned the 2013 School Finance Award from the MN Department of Education. "I want to commend Tanya for that," she said.

Other financial matters

Another vote was to clear out class accounts for 2005-2011. Those dollars were left over after graduation expenses and photo composite bills were settled.

Totaling $1,297, the money was routed to the "Dollars for Scholars" program via a second motion/vote.

The board approved a $6,700 quote from Winona Controls to open a wall in the girls' locker room to get at six shower valves/ heads.

Udstuen said that a whole new set of plumbing will be flush mounted on a stainless steel panel, which the contractor will also provide.

Described as an urgent need, there was no opposition to getting the work done over Easter break.

Solum did receive a consensus from members to ask for at least two bids in the future for items over $5,000.

Udstuen said a $12,000 grant is likely to be coming through the Houston County Collaborative. Some schools will use the money for mental health programs.

Policing concerns reviewed

"As far as the police at the school, Chief Folz and I have been in contact. We communicate continually, but especially in the last few months we've been checking in on a regular basis.

"I know that Dennis Deters has written a letter to the editor, and he put an ad in the paper this last week. I just want to be very clear that our location (on a main highway) is always a concern of our school district.

"This ad in the paper is not from the school. That's what we want to make clear. However, if there are people who want to share their thoughts and their feelings about it, that's just fine."

"It is always going to be an issue, being on the highway... (to have) traffic slowing down."

Frac sand route not immediate issue

The proposed frac sand route past the school "is not an immediate issue for us," Udstuen noted, since Allamakee County (Iowa) has approximately a year left on its moratorium.

In addition, a statewide moratorium in Minnesota could forestall the issue.

"In the meantime, I have been contacted by a number of parents who are very concerned. I just keep saying, 'Contact your legislators and tell them how you feel about this.'"