"I'd like to thank the entire staff for a wonderful start to the school year. It went very smoothly. Just because it goes smoothly doesn't mean that it's easy - there are a lot of people working very hard to make that happen," said Chatfield High School Principal Randy Paulson.

Paulson was reporting to the Chatfield School Board during the September meeting held last Monday, Sept. 16.

Chatfield Superintendent Ed Harris echoed Paulson's commendations, saying, "The school year started very smoothly. The staff and students transitioned to normalcy very quickly."

Even though the school year ended in early June, Harris pointed out that staff members Elissa Johnsrud and Kristi Cook were busy throughout the summer. Johnsrud facilitated the summer Action 100 reading program, meant to help students retain their reading progress made during the last school year, the first year the district has employed the Action 100 reading program.

Harris stated, "She spent the summer preparing and reporting, doing a lot of work connecting year one with year two."

Johnsrud noted that the second year of using Action 100 is off to a great start. "Since the staff is more familiar with it and has an idea what's coming up, they're doing well. We have 10 training days coming up, and we'll focus a lot this year on student intervention and moving kids forward, working on common core standards," she explained. "In ADSIS (Alternative Delivery of Specialized Instruction Services), we've welcomed a kindergarten through first grade teacher, Erin Banks, and ADSIS paraprofessional Tess Olson. We're going to focus more on one-to-one intervention and also align the high school with the elementary."

Cook's mission over the summer was to acquaint teachers with classroom-use iPads.

Board member Matt McMahon observed that the deployment of iPads was "off with a bang" and that he felt the staff is "doing a good job."

Cook related that students in grades four through eight received their iPads and are working to learn how to find their assignments online and turn them in directly to their teachers using Schoology, the software the district has chosen for that purpose.

"We're working with both students and teachers, and we have staff development sessions coming up," she said.

New staff

Paulson updated the board on new staff being mentored by veteran staff members.

"Jessica Bester will be mentored by Stacy Fritz, Angela Wiegmann will be mentored by Janet Bren, and since we have Blake Jansen back with us - he joined us in January - he still doesn't have a full year with us, so he'll continue to be mentored by Nora Gathje," Paulson said.

He told the board, "All the students got to jump out of a bus," while practicing bus safety during the first weeks of school, and that high school staff is concentrating on assisting seventh and eighth grade students in the SOS tutoring program. He said they are becoming more organized and ready to learn so that they can transition out of the program.

"We've expanded seventh and eighth grade to 7:30 a.m. in addition to noontime. The goal is to get every kid out of the SOS program, get them organized and trained so that they're back out on their own," Paulson added.

Superintendent report

Harris's report cited that enrollment has come up by 10 students this year and the district is hopeful to maintain its numbers.

Also, he outlined the district emergency response and management plan, for instances such as if a student or staff member were to pass away, if an intruder were to enter a school building, or if there is a major disaster that requires full-staff response.

"Our emergency resources and crisis team roster has been developed and it's been put into a single page on our website. There's still a lot more to do, but there are tabs available for the general public, then there are password-protected parts for those with a network presence," Harris explained. "This plan will allow us to strategically enable or disable doors, monitor security cameras and control the phone system, or log into our SkyAlert system to put out student and staff messages from a remote location, like if there's a disaster and we have to work from downtown. We're planning team meetings to help staff team members learn what will be expected of them. It's still in the draft form."

Board chairman Jerry Chase stated, "That's an awesome thing. I'm sure it takes a lot to do. Hopefully we'll never need it."

Harris expressed his appreciation for district secretary LuAnn Hare's assistance in engineering the plan.

He added that the elementary school building opened this fall with some electrical issues caused by a power interruption down the hill near Strongwell. The district is working to repair breakers in the school's electrical system.

The playground will "hopefully get its final asphalt" so that students can play there soon.

Other business

In other business, the school board handled the following issues.

• The consent agenda included approving hiring Dave Ahern as a new high school custodian.

• A visitor to the meeting, Chatfield High School social studies instructor Adam Archer, thanked the board and administration for allowing him to take two years to teach in Tanzania.

• The proposed 2013 payable 2014 levy limitation was approved. For 2013 Payable 2014, the maximum is $2,022,925.91. Last year, the 2012 payable 2013 certified levy was $2,197,736.85. Harris explained the state is taking more fiscal responsibility and leaning less on property taxpayers. "It's not like we'll wind up getting any more revenue, but there's approximately an 8 percent decrease in this year's levy compared to last year's."