Wykoff resident Lynn Kidd speaks during the public comment portion of the Kingsland School Board meeting last Monday evening.  Kidd shared his opposing view on the proposed expansion of the Spring Valley school site and the closure of the Wykoff school building.
Wykoff resident Lynn Kidd speaks during the public comment portion of the Kingsland School Board meeting last Monday evening. Kidd shared his opposing view on the proposed expansion of the Spring Valley school site and the closure of the Wykoff school building.
"I've been kind of upset with the things I've been reading in the paper," said Wykoff resident Lynn Kidd, addressing the Kingsland School Board of Directors as a visitor during the November meeting held last Monday, Nov. 18, referring to the board's announced intentions to close the district's middle school building in Wykoff.

He continued, "I was on the committee when the districts consolidated in 1992, and we had considered dissolving. If we had dissolved, some of the students would have gone to Spring Valley, some to Preston, some to Chatfield. The Wykoff district was 20 miles long and seven miles wide when we joined Spring Valley, and that's 140 square miles. At $8 per acre, that's $716,800, and the city of Wykoff contributes $161,000 in taxes, for a total of $877,800. Now you're telling us you're going to take the middle school out of Wykoff? When we signed up, it was so we could keep the school in Wykoff.

"You're talking about adding rooms to this building, telling us you don't have enough rooms. If you move the seventh and eighth graders back to the middle school building again, that would free up a lot of rooms here in Spring Valley without changing the status...and 10 years ago, there was a fact-finding committee that found at that time that the Wykoff building was the most structurally sound building, and suddenly, now it's not?"

Kidd thanked the board for listening as he concluded, "If the building in Wykoff needs repairs, it's easier to spend a few thousand dollars than to spend millions and leave that place sit empty. I'd like you to really reconsider this and try to get the middle school back to Wykoff like you promised. If you say you can't find that promise, it's in the minutes of lots of meetings held years ago."

The board acknowledged Kidd's statements, then went on to hear the principals', Student Council, FFA and Drama Club reports.

Kingsland High School Principal James Hecimovich thanked those who participated in the annual Veterans' Day program, including Vietnam veteran nurse Charlotte O'Connor.

"We had a great turnout at our program," he told the board. "We enjoyed it very much and were glad to have all those veterans there, including Charlotte O'Connor - we don't see women veterans very often. It was great to have her and the other veterans. The kids were very respectful."

The high rigor open campus program implemented at Hecimovich's request has gone well, he stated, pointing out that the students who are eligible to be treated as college students and have been granted the opportunity to come and go from the school campus have generally chosen not to take advantage of it.

"They're staying here, actually," he explained. "It's amazing how many continue to stay here. They're using it only when they need to. They're not abusing it, and I think they're doing well."

Kingsland Elementary School Principal Chris Priebe reported that the elementary and middle school students also behaved well as they welcomed veterans to the schools, and that parent-teacher conferences were "well attended and successful. We had 95 percent of all families coming in, and I'd like to thank Marilyn Erdman and the Kingsland School Parents for providing teachers' meals each night.

"Now, the school handbook says that the office will announce when winter begins, and we've announced that it has begun. We want to remind parents that when they're sending their kids to school, they should make sure they have the appropriate gear, and if they don't, please let us know and we'll do what we can to help."

Priebe also spoke on the WatchDOGS program set to start in January - Watch Dads of Great Students (WatchDOGS), an effort to engage fathers, grandfathers and the responsible men in students' lives in volunteering at the school. "We'll have a kickoff event in January, with more news to come on that," said Priebe. "We'd also like anyone who hasn't joined Kingsland Public Schools on Facebook or Twitter to check us out on social media."

Valerie Earley and Shelby Larson represented the FFA, sharing that the recent corn drive garnered $2,002 for Camp Courage, Camp Winnebago and the Spring Valley Area Food Shelf. They also told the board that the chapter will soon be involved in an ag literacy program in Rochester elementary schools that will incorporate the chapter's barnyard animals. Another note of interest is that Brianna Musel earned her silver award in the job interview category at the national convention held in Louisville, Ky, three weeks ago.

Larson, president of the Kingsland Drama Club, and vice president Jordan Pokorney, told about how the newly-formed club has approximately 10 members and some students who have expressed interest in joining but have yet to commit. "We're trying to raise money for plays, and this winter, we're going caroling - you sign your family members up, and it's a certain amount for us to go caroling at that house. It's sort of like flamingoing someone's lawn, but we're singing to them instead of putting flamingos on their lawns." Pokorney commented that the club hopes to attract people who have yet to become thespians or those who would like to work behind the scenes on the stage crew.

Kingsland Athletic Director Tom Speltz presented a suggestion that the district has discussed with the LeRoy-Ostrander school district - forming a football cooperative since both schools' teams are struggling to fill their rosters. However, he observed, even though the concept has some merit right now, the number of upcoming students may improve at both schools, eventually or immediately negating the prospect of forming the cooperative. He reiterated, "This is just an idea, and nothing has been done about it right now."

The board approved the purchase of 40 additional iPads to be used for the pilot science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) elementary program at a cost of approximately $21,000. In other action, the board transferred the middle school tennis courts to the city of Wykoff through a quit-claim deed - because the plot had been given to the school district in 1964, but was no longer used often enough to justify keeping it if the city could transform it into parking space. Also, the board granted permission to Kingsland Spanish instructor Mollie McMahon to take qualifying students to Costa Rica in June 2015 as part of an educational tour, and accepted the audit report as presented by the district's auditing firm, Clifton Allen Larson.

In personnel, the board accepted the resignation of head football coach John Fenske, who has served 24 out of 28 years as a coach.

Kingsland Superintendent John McDonald said "I'd like to thank Mr. Fenske for his years of service. There's a lot of work that goes into making football games happen."

Angela Forland was hired as a long-term substitute for early childhood special education teacher Samantha Van Gorp, who is on maternity leave. In other personnel items, teachers Brad Reiter and Andrew Brouwer were assigned to be advisors of the robotics team, Aaron Thauwald was hired to coach junior high basketball, and a school psychologist was hired through ProCare, a company under contract with the district. Also, former Kingsland English instructor Karen Cleveland was appointed to be the Osterud Committee representative.

The next meeting of the Kingsland School Board of Directors is slated for Monday, Dec. 16, at 6:30 p.m., with the annual truth-in-taxation hearing set for the beginning of the meeting. 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.