Chatfield's school board convened last Tuesday evening, Feb. 18, instead of the regularly scheduled third Monday of the month due to the Presidents' Day holiday on Monday.

Superintendent Ed Harris thanked the board members for their service, as Feb. 17 to 21 is marked as National School Board Appreciation Week.

He then opened discussion on the school year calendar, as winter weather has "been a factor" in how many days school has been in session in the past several months.

"We had another snow day Monday and this Friday was supposed to be a vacation day and Thursday an early out, but that's a full day now," Harris told the board. "We could make up some of the time used by having an early out on May 30, which was supposed to be a teacher workshop...unless we decide to go a week into June or take away a day at Easter."

This meeting was held prior to the additional snow days experienced last Thursday and Friday due to blizzard conditions.

Harris also presented the draft of the 2014-2015 school calendar, telling the board that "it's not much different from this year's."

Wrestling team heads to state

The high school wrestling team's success and ensuing participation in the state tournament has also called for a day off from school this Thursday, Feb. 27, as the grapplers take to the mats in the Twin Cities.

"I'd like to request that the board approve classes be canceled on February 27 so that people can attend the tournaments," Harris said, and the board approved the day off so that fans can enjoy cheering for the Gophers.

Solar panels

Harris then asked permission from the board to pursue the possibility of installing solar panels on the school rooftops as a means of saving energy.

"In the finance and facility committee, we probably spent the most time on a solar energy array possibility," he explained. "There's a lot to understand, but we're able to get a summary of the plan for the district to build rooftop units and contract energy savings, but we've had more complications in the process than we first realized. In a nutshell, we'll have a lease and energy recoup arrangement...in order for this to remain an opportunity, I need the board's permission to execute this in the next couple days."

The board authorized Harris to execute a contract and further discussion with the Ideal Energies company.

Budget review

In the budget review, Harris related, "It's projected that by June, we'll have deficit-spent...this has not changed, and in the coming years, we'll have to roll back expenses to create solvency."

Harris continued, "We've done a lot of capacity-building, and we do have to pull back and live without some things."

Board member Greg LaPlante concurred, "We do have reductions to make."

Principal reports

Next, Chatfield Elementary Principal Craig Ihrke spoke about the completion of NWEA testing, pointing out that "we've had a really good jump in scores."

He credited the success of the ADSIS - or Reading Research - class with producing better study skills that in turn caused students to have improved testing achievement.

Though it's the middle of winter, Ihrke cited that the students are busy and enthusiastic. "February is 'I Love to Read Month,' and we have Olympic activities planned for the end of the month if the students reach their 500 steps of reading, which they're getting close to doing," he said. "Also, the fourth through sixth grade music concert was held at the end of January. I'd like to thank Ms. Ahl, Ms. Jablonski and Mrs. Narveson for their excellent work."

Chatfield High School Principal Randy Paulson congratulated the wrestling team on its upcoming trip to state tournaments, then commended the Gopher football team for being named the "Winning Sports Team of the Year 2013" at the Rochester Area Sports Banquet.

"That's a huge honor," he related.

He went on to note the Chatfield one-act play cast earned second place at the subsection meet and advanced to section competition at St. Mary's University in Winona last month.

"The high school registration guide has been sent to staff, and we're wrapping up preregistration, tallying classes," he also reported. "Also, we're considering having only one honor roll per semester...as we try to blend more high school and college together, it becomes more difficult, so we'd like to have only a first and second semester honor roll."

Furthermore, Paulson proposed that graduating seniors receive a certificate of achievement at the graduation ceremony and then receive their diplomas in the mail within the week because of the variety of educational options available to high school students. Some choose to take advanced placement courses within the high school, some choose to attend college courses through the post-secondary options program - and no specific determination can be made regarding graduation until the time credits and grades are turned in from all instructors.

Visitors to the meeting

Student Senate members Maddie Muller and Kaylie Bernard were guests of the board, and their job was to tell about the annual Snow Week celebration, which included dress-up days and the Snow Ball.

After that, Chatfield Community Education director LuAnn Klevan outlined how the registration process for preschool classes is underway and that class selection for families with students already enrolled in preschool will be able to choose at the end of March or the beginning of April.

"I don't see any major changes to preschool at all," Klevan said.

She also invited area parents to join community education in welcoming early childhood and family education (ECFE) presenter Katy Smith to the school on March 6 for a seminar on parenting. She encouraged persons interested in community education offerings to watch the Bluff Country Reader for a flier listing upcoming classes and seminars.

Other matters

The consent agenda included approving a raffle to be held by the senior class of 2015, the resignation of an assistant speech coach and the posting of the position. Kyle Tollefson was hired as seventh grade baseball coach and the board accepted his resignation as seventh grade softball coach. The softball coaching position will be posted. Additionally, Jayna Harstad was hired as an assistant track coach.

The next meeting of the Chatfield School Board is slated for Monday, March 17, in the high school media center. The public is welcome to attend. For more information, one may log onto the Chatfield school website at www.chatfield.k12.mn.us.