Kingsland's school board convened last Monday, May 19 with a full end-of-year agenda, including approving the formal structure of a facilities task force that will encompass members of the board, administration, staff and members of the Kingsland community.

Board chairman Doug Plaehn presented a list of six volunteers from the community who wish to participate in the task force. They are Jack Bly, Jeff Erding, Steve Heusinkveld, Stuart Gross, Al Williams and Amber Zigan.

The school district members of the task force are yet to be determined.

"I thought we'd add two people from the board, two from the administration, two staff members," Plaehn said. Board members Gwen Howard and Troy Asher volunteered to serve on the task force, which will examine how the district should move forward in maintaining its facilities to best serve its students.

In other items, business manager Todd Lechtenberg's budget update featured news on expenditures and revenues to date, as well as the capital outlay fund.

"Through April, we were at $4.9 million in revenue, or about 80 percent of our budget. That's a good thing...right in line...our expenditures right now are about $4.8 million, or about 78 percent of our expenses turned in," he reported to the board.

The kindergarten enrollment forecast has left the finance management department with some questions, as the original census was thought to be 50 or 51 students - a number that would require another kindergarten teacher - but current registrations stood at 39 kindergartners, affecting the district at an estimated figure of $6,000 each.

"We have a $78,000 increase in our unassigned funds...that's a positive thing in the state of Minnesota, something that speaks very well for the staff and the board," said Lechtenberg. "That $78,000 does not include an additional teacher, which will be about $45,000. The budget could support that additional teacher."

While Lechtenberg presented the proposed capital outlay fund report - including some "unknown projects" for which funds must be spent - the board asked that it be reconfigured to more accurately reflect the district's assigned and unassigned fund balances, and Lechtenberg stated that he understood which changes would be necessary to make that happen. The board chose to table capital outlay fund matters until next month, at which time the preliminary fiscal year 2015 budget will likely be available for perusal.

In personnel, the board approved the resignations of library paraprofessional Jenny Simon, junior high football coach Jamie Fenske, custodian Deb Doherty, Project Lead the Way teacher and assistant football coach Brent Stinson, third grade teacher Jill Thalmann and grounds and maintenance director Scott Stockdale. The board also voted not to renew speech and language pathologist Reeny Asprey Smith's contract.

The board voted to hire the extended school year staff as presented, Jacob Vetter as head girls' basketball coach, Brad Reiter and Paul Eckheart as B squad football coaches, Steve Hauser as interim athletic director, and Angela Forland and Kim Bly as summer SACC assistants. Tenure was granted to high school Spanish instructor Mollie McMahon and to elementary teacher Rachael Burt.

In reports, Kingsland High School Principal James Hecimovich commended the seniors on their "stellar behavior" during their class trip and shared that they returned home "with no issues to report," other than some had a craving to return to their small hometowns and escape Chicago's concrete jungle.

He shared that MCA testing was "wrapped up...clearly indicating that we have work to do in mathematics," prompting the staff to consider how it might improve math comprehension between grade levels. He noted that the coming year's schedule is nearing completion and that a parent meeting had been held to prepare families for the fall. Also, he told the board he received his retirement orders from the military after 32 years of service and now would be able to spend the entire school year focusing on making Kingsland a better learning environment. The board thanked Hecimovich for serving his country and for his dedication to the district.

Kingsland Elementary and Middle School Principal Chris Priebe thanked the board and staff for making adjustments in order to allow for professional learning communities (PLC) to meet each Wednesday afternoon for staff development, gave the list of field trips students in kindergarten through sixth grade were scheduled to take during the last two weeks of school, and noted that the district will once again host a Project Lead the Way Gateway Academy session this summer for science-interested middle school students.

He also tentatively proposed that the board consider changing Kingsland Middle School's name to "Kingsland Intermediate School," acknowledging that it was simply a suggestion based on the state's perception of what a middle school and intermediate school are, and that he may not have enough history in the district to even suggest such changes, as the matter is a sensitive one.

Board members agreed that the change might happen, but they also related that they'd like to keep in mind the prospective changes to the district's grade and facility configurations.

Priebe thanked the board for hearing his idea and concurred that the impending facility changes might have some bearing on what to call the middle school.

Kingsland Superintendent John McDonald reported on various issues in the district, such as the districtwide World's Best Workforce (WBW) advisory meeting held to set programming to the state-required standards. He also explained work on the high school and elementary building's fire alarm system as the system malfunctioned, alarming the staff who felt that it ought to work and prompting the maintenance department to have a temporary system installed to last until the end of the school year, at which time a permanent system will be installed.

McDonald said that preschool enrollment has grown and the options available to preschool families have expanded to include two-, three- and five-day options that required the board to authorize the hiring of a half-time preschool instructor. Lastly, he said that the state legislative session resulted in a pleasant surprise - schools will be receiving an additional $25 per pupil in state aid next year, as well as funding for teacher evaluation processes and other necessary school functions.

Robert Tieffenbacher spoke about the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) tech device purchasing program, explaining that the district has been "looking at two devices" for students' parents to purchase next school year if they choose to do so as part of the Best Buy discount incentive being offered as a way to assist parents in buying tech devices used for educational purposes.

"We hope to put more ownership into the devices, and if we find a device that students like, it will be with them after they graduate," he said. "We'll have a parent meeting and device pickup before school starts."

He went on to note that students' iPads and notebooks will be collected at the end of the school year - this week, most likely - and readied for the coming school year.

The district transferred its deaf and hard of hearing teacher service contract to Southern Minnesota Education Consortium (SMEC) at a rate of $45 per hour for 43 days, totaling $15,480 plus mileage, and its vision services contract to SMEC at a rate of $60 per hour for 24 days, totaling $11,520 plus mileage. Board member Gwen Howard abstained from both votes. The district's autism service contract was approved as presented.

Finally, the board expressed its appreciation to the Spring Valley American Legion for its $100 donation to the trap team, IBM for $2,000 received for the robotics team, Pheasants Forever for $750 given to the trap team, and to the tech support staff for its assistance in maintaining the school's Internet-connected computers during elementary MCA and NWEA assessments.

The Kingsland School Board of Directors meets the third Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Kingsland High School conference room. The public is welcome to attend. For more information, call (507) 346-7276, or log onto the Kingsland website at www.kingsland.k12.mn.us.