Chatfield School Board talks 'snow business'
Monday, April 01, 2013 10:10 AM
There was no business like snow business during last week's Chatfield School Board meeting, held Monday, March 25, after being postponed due to yet another snowstorm on Monday, March 18. That storm caused school closures across the region.
The board discussed snow days and the 2013-2014 calendar, as this winter's late snowstorms have created difficulties for school districts attempting to fulfill their commitments to student instructional hours and teacher contracts. Considering that fact, the board wished to plan ahead for such possibilities in the coming school year.
Chatfield Superintendent Ed Harris stated, "Snow day make-up has been a hot topic as of late, causing issues as to when and how to make up days."
The district has already used up its snow make-up days and eliminated part of the Easter break in order to maintain the 2012-2013 calendar, which releases students at the end of May and allows staff to finish shortly thereafter, as the 2013-2014 calendar is slated to do.
Harris, after gathering staff input on both calendars, said, "I sent information out and met with eight to 10 teachers. I sent them the idea of scheduling and staff development. It's the teachers' opinion that they want to keep the year within the existing calendar and they're hopeful the year will wrap up and not carry over."
He added that the second choice is to schedule independent staff time through the principals or to add a day in June or August. He added that he felt everyone was tired of the whole succession of snow days.
"There are not many options left, other than flat out forgiving them, as we used up all our snow days and early outs and can't use Memorial Day since it's a federal holiday," Harris added.
Board member Matt McMahon posited, "You'll get more value out of a day in August than a day in June."
Member Greg LaPlante asked, "Staff development time in June instead of bringing the kids back?"
Harris observed that the staff development time that might occur in June would be specific to staff involved in the deployment of iPads to elementary students, should the district choose to hold development hours then, which would not fulfill all staff contracts.
Board member Kathy Schellhammer noted, "I tend to think this is an act of nature, is done, that there's something to be said for just letting it go because things are flowing well here."
Harris stated, "That's what the teachers felt."
Schellhammer added, "I think we're doing well to plan our make-up days in advance."
Board Chairman Jerry Chase concurred that the board and administration could forgive the remaining snow days in this year's calendar for the sake of continuity.
The board voted to forgive the extra snow days and end the school year as planned, though the early out scheduled for April 19 has been canceled.
Next, the 2013-2014 calendar was approved, including snow make-up days embedded into the spring.
The revised budget was given the board's vote of acceptance, as the district has been deficit spending to make ends meet.
Harris's monthly report cited that the district has spent "somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000" due to an increase in healthcare program enrollment, high needs student placement and other factors.
McMahon observed, "We are deficit spending, and we asked the community for more money a couple years ago but let them know that this is just a Band-aid since we have no increases from the state."
Chase agreed, "We said that this is a five- to six-year plan, and we made that pretty clear to the public. Hopefully, things will change."
Community education director LuAnn Klevan spoke about preschool registration. "We're starting to collect registrations. The pool drawing is April 9, and people may not get their first choices, but people seem to like the full-day options and those fill up first. Next fall, we're offering an option for the first time for preschool and kindergartners to participate in Valleyland."
She added that community education is handling summer baseball registration and "hoping to have it all in by April 22 so we can start mid-May."
The school board also handled several smaller issues during the meeting, including the items below.
The board approved the resignation of JV baseball coach Tom Bance, posting the coaching position and hiring Chatfield Elementary School Principal Craig Ihrke as the new coach.
The board approved the resignation of elementary school paraprofessional Karen Halverson, hiring Deb Hare as a replacement.
An elementary trip to Eagle Bluff on April 24 through April 26 was approved as was the annual junior high trip to Washington, D.C., set for June 24 through June 30. The high school art club's trip to Madison, Wis., in May was also approved.
The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 15, at 7 p.m. in the Chatfield High School library. For more information, log onto the school website at www.chatfield.k12.mn.us.