FFA members Jackie Apenhorst and Melinda Woods report to the Kingsland School Board during the April meeting held Wednesday, April 23.  The meeting also encompassed facility planning recommendations, personnel changes and a budget update.  GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
FFA members Jackie Apenhorst and Melinda Woods report to the Kingsland School Board during the April meeting held Wednesday, April 23. The meeting also encompassed facility planning recommendations, personnel changes and a budget update. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Discussion on maintenance needs of buildings led to approval by the Kingsland School Board to form a task force, which would include volunteers from the community, to look at the needs and priorities of the district's facilities.

"I think it's a good idea to continue moving forward with maintenance issues that have been postponed for so many years. I think we need to tackle this," said Kingsland School Board of Directors Chairman Doug Plaehn, speaking to the board last Wednesday evening about pursuing deferred maintenance items at both the middle school and the high school and elementary school buildings.

His suggestion stems from a community facility forum held March 25, during which many members of the Kingsland community expressed their concerns that building an addition to the Spring Valley facility and closing the middle school building is not the first answer.

During discussion on the maintenance issue, board member Steve Tart inquired as to whether there is a very detailed list of necessary repairs at the Wykoff site, and Plaehn replied, "We've got a pretty good list of deferred maintenance items." He went on to suggest that if deferred maintenance items were to be addressed - along with some educational improvements being made - a task force could be formed to deal with those changes by building a priority list.

"We do have some alternative facility bonds that come due that are funded by property taxes, so we don't have to do it all, but we could at least knock off the priority maintenance items, and the taxpayers wouldn't see an increase in their taxes," said Plaehn.

Board member Gwen Howard questioned who would be on the task force and how many members of the public would be included, as that was a point of contention with the facility committee that brought forth recommendations for the building expansion proposal earlier this year. She related, "We had people from the community volunteer to be on the committee, and it's important that people who have expertise be on it."

Her motion to start forming a task force and request that volunteers from the community join was passed by the board.

A representative from Best Buy shared information regarding the Best Buy Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program, an initiative that was piloted in the Edina school district and has been under consideration at Kingsland, since the district purchased netbooks and iPads for student use three years ago and is now attempting to determine what replacement options for those units might be when they reach the end of their serviceable function.

The BYOD program would offer parents an opportunity to purchase devices at a discounted rate for their children, thereby allowing the students to have a device that can be taken to college. The board has decided that if it chooses to pilot the program in the district, it would begin by offering BYOD to upper high school students first, as they are closer to graduation. The board reiterated that while the program offers purchasing options, no kindergarten through 12th grade student will be denied use of a school netbook or iPad based on a decision not to purchase one.

Kingsland Superintendent John McDonald shared on increased enrollment and revenue, resulting in the 2014-2015 budget possibly appearing different.

"Last year at this time, we had 609 students, and this year, we're at 619 students," he said. "We've been adding programs back slowly - things that have been eliminated in the past, but with the increase in enrollment, we've been able to add back three teachers."

Business manager Todd Lechtenberg related how the state's funding of all-day kindergarten might impact the district's 2014-2015 budget, as previously, kindergartners were weighted by the state as 0.6 pupil equivalent instead of 1.0 pupil equivalent, meaning that if the district gains or loses kindergartners, $5,806 per all-day, every day kindergarten student in state aid would be in the balance. Additionally, the board examined what would happen if there are 51 kindergartners instead of 50, as that means that an additional teacher must be available for a class of approximately 17 students.

Kingsland High School Principal James Hecimovich spoke about the success of the FFA's mock crash held Wednesday, April 16, for which student Trevor Schwarz was chosen to be a victim and fellow student Dane Gillespie was chosen to be the person guilty of causing the crash.

"The mock crash was quite moving. I had the opportunity to be there, and Trevor wasn't at school the rest of the day...he was gone," he said. "It did impact the kids to see everything, to have a funeral and see Judge Opat hold a trial, Dane Gillespie being given 48 months for manslaughter. I think it was very impactful."

He listed that the seniors have a class trip to Chicago coming up and that prom was a week and a half away.

Kingsland Elementary and Middle School Principal Chris Priebe reported on spring MCA testing and that while testing is in progress, there are still field trips and other fun educational events on the calendar. The sixth graders will mark their DARE graduation on Tuesday, May 27, at the middle school, welcoming students from area schools to join them as Fillmore County deputy Kevin Beck presents their DARE diplomas.

Also, Priebe introduced a community food share program that benefits students who might need a little help finding lunch on the weekends, thanking Kingsland resident Anna Krahn and school employee Ann Halloran for their assistance in starting the program that discreetly distributes food to those students in need.

Activities director Tom Speltz updated the board on winter sports numbers, outlining that participation is up 38 percent.

However, certain spring sports are in question because track and field's participation isn't as robust, and golf doesn't have as many people lined up for the team either. Speltz proposed cooperative track and field - and possibly golf - programming to lift participation.

Board members renewed the district's shared athletics agreement with Grand Meadow and LeRoy-Ostrander to continue operating specific sports as Grand Meadow-LeRoy-Ostrander-Kingsland, or GMLOK.

Speltz reminded the board and audience of the upcoming Kingsland drama department presentation of "Bye, Bye Birdie" on May 9 through May 11 at Kingsland Middle School.

Also, FFA members told of the FFA banquet held on Monday evening - attendance was good, and awards were given to members who had achieved numerous things.

The board extended its appreciation to Essig Agency for a donation to the robotics program in the amount of $250 and to Charles and Miranda Emig for a $50 donation, the Kingsland Athletic Booster Club for a $550 Tootie Foster Memorial Scholarship, Custom Alarm for a $150 donation for soccer, and the Spring Valley Veterans of Foreign Wars for its donation of $200 to the Kingsland trap team.

The board also thanked Joanne Williams for her years of service following her announcement of intent to retire; board members hope to be able to honor her at an upcoming meeting.

In personnel matters, the board accepted the resignations of special education teacher Erin Cady, high school attendance secretary Morgan Rohr, high school paraprofessional Aaron Thauwald, head girls' basketball coach Jill Thalmann, and administrative assistant Amber Uhlenhake, who will be working as part of the School Management Services (SMS) staff and serving the district for business management through a contract with SMS onsite three days a week, performing administrative duties as before.

Board members voted to approve the hire of head coaches as presented, Robert Rowe as a middle school cook, Jasper Hamersma as a junior high softball coach, Mollie McMahon as cross-country head coach and John Fenske as boys' basketball head coach. Also, Brian Feight was hired as the school psychologist - shared with Fillmore Central. Other hires were Robert Rowe and Sheldon Stockdale as summer grounds maintenance workers, Scott Knode as a summer general maintenance worker and Austin Bly as a summer indoor maintenance worker.

Additionally, the board voted not to renew the contract of preschool teacher Kelly Simon, as the position is an at-will, non-union position.

Finally, Elevate Life Church will now be meeting on Sundays in the Kingsland Café at Kingsland High School after the board passed a motion to rent the Café to the congregation, which had originally asked to rent both the Café and the gym. Since the gym is the only competition gym the district has, the board felt that it would not be wise to include it in the rental contract. The contract will state that the church can hold services only in the Café, its congregation must clean up after services, and the district reserves the right to terminate the contract if the Sunday custodian reports any negative findings.

The next regular meeting of the Kingsland School Board of Directors is slated for Monday, May 19, 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.