Not only will the levy for the Kingsland school district be decreasing next year, the board learned at its Monday, Sept. 16, meeting, which included a long agenda, that it will be getting several donations and grants from various sources.

Business manager Todd Lechtenberg reported that the proposed tax levy for 2014 is "overall a good message for the taxpayers of Spring Valley and Wykoff." The 2012-2013 property tax levy stood at $2,011,044.10, and the proposed maximum tax levy for 2013-2014 is $1,861,255.97. The board unanimously chose to certify the maximum amount.

Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) instructor Ann Priebe informed the board that she was proud to announce that the ECFE program had received a grant in the amount of $14,400 to fund scholarships for families to enroll their children in ECFE programming, as she and Kingsland Community Education coordinator Becky Bicknese had examined the number of scholarships available for low income families and determined that those families were being underserved.

The district also received a grant in the amount of $17,500 to help students make a transition from preschool to kindergarten and enhance their literacy skills. A kindergarten camp is slated for Aug. 18 through 20 next summer for 20 students struggling with meeting early reading skill standards.

Reading specialist Jennifer Campbell shared that the district has gotten a grant of $21,198 from the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) to provide "additional assistance to rural districts" to help them make adequate yearly progress (AYP). "Last year, for the first time, we met eligibility requirements, and we felt this was something we could use. The guidelines say that it has to be combined with other federal dollars. We'll use it for teacher professional development and Title I parent activities. We hope to use it to increase students' achievement."

Kingsland Athletic Booster Club (KABC) member Stacey Rath reported on a $15,545 donation to the school, relating that $2,600 went toward bingo payouts for girls' and boys' basketball team bingo games held at local restaurants, $6,350 for the athletic department's wish list, $6,195 toward new scoreboards - in partnership with Fowler BP, Essig Agency, Valley Home Improvement and Security State Bank. Another $400 went for the fence design that the Kingsland art department was working on to draw attention to school property, given that homecoming is this weekend.

"We also have a new bingo site in Grand Meadow at The Bridge Club, and we've opened it up to non-athletic organizations to volunteer to work and make some extra money for their programs," Rath told the board. "The FFA has October and November, and we'd like to encourage other groups to fill the schedule."

At the start of the meeting, board members expressed appreciation to the Osterud-Winter Trust Fund for a donation of $1,500, another from the Fillmore County Soil and Water Conservation District for $1,800, and yet another from the Spring Valley Area Community Foundation for improvements in the elementary school courtyard. Board members Troy Asher and Gwen Howard were then presented with plaques recognizing they had completed state school board training modules one through three, committing entire days to training.

In other matters, VFW Commander Nathan Pike, along with VFW member Larry Niemeyer and auxiliary member Marlene Niemeyer, appeared at the meeting to bestow a new American flag upon the district for use during meetings, since the board has opened its meetings for the past several years by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to a small flag pinned to a bulletin board.

"It is my privilege and honor to be able to present this to the school district," said Pike. "It's a great pleasure to be able to share the symbol of our great republic."

Pike, the board members, administration and audience stood to rededicate the flag by saying the Pledge of Allegiance once more.

In the superintendent's report, John McDonald noted the Sept. 9 visit that Minnesota's commissioner of education paid to Kingsland schools went well. "Brenda Cassellius toured the middle school and high school, and she was very impressed with Kingsland. She called it a 'very positive experience' and was impressed with the quality of education here," he told the board.

Kingsland High School Principal James Hecimovich reported that there had been "a great start to the school year...we really got the kids fired up." He noted that on Sept. 11, the district held an assembly for students to remember the tragic terrorist attacks of that date in 2001 and to educate those who did not know.

"We shared with the kids that Sept. 11 is sort of our generation's Pearl Harbor. We let the teachers tell where they were when they heard," said Hecimovich.

He also updated the board on business partnership meetings being scheduled for Project Lead the Way (PLTW) and spoke on enrollment in College in the Schools (CIS) - in progress this past week - then related that the staff is making good use of early-out Wednesdays in professional learning communities, collaborating and educating themselves on how to better educate students.

Kingsland Elementary and Middle School Principal Chris Priebe appeared before the board wearing only half a tie, and he promised that he could explain.

"In PBIS, or the Positive Behavioral Intervention System, our students are learning to be respectful, responsible and ready. We're changing how we talk to the kids, and when we catch them being good, we give them tickets. They collect those tickets, and we give them rewards. We're trying to be really clear with the kids how we want them to behave, and that's what happened to my tie...one of the kids was caught being good and got enough tickets that his reward was to cut it in half."

In personnel, the board approved a lane change and maternity leave for Sam Van Gorp, a lane change for Mollie McMahon and Stacey Hogberg, increased the ECFE position from a 0.5 position to a 0.6 position, which incurred a pay increase of $4,523.60. The board also hired winter coaching staff, Malcolm Johnson as a bus driver, Valarie Clement as a high school paraprofessional and Morgan Zimmer as a van driver. The board approved an increase in the contract for vision services, voted to accept the seniority lists for foodservice, miscellaneous and classified staff and bus drivers, and assigned extracurricular activity advisory positions.

McDonald announced that Mitch Lentz, a former Kingsland school board member and chairman, has been chosen as the 2013 Wall of Honor inductee, and will be recognized during a program at the Kingsland High School cafeteria this Friday, Sept. 27, at 6 p.m. While inviting the public to attend the reception, the superintendent pointed out that the Wall of Honor induction is "a very prestigious award" and that Lentz has "done great things for the district."

The next meeting of the Kingsland School Board of Directors is set for Monday, Oct. 21, at 6:30 p.m. in the Kingsland High School conference room. The public is welcome to attend. For more information, log onto the Kingsland website at www.kingsland.k12.mn.us or call the district office at (507) 346-7276.