Chatfield's school board was treated to presentations of award-winning science fair projects during its April 21 meeting. Chatfield High School (CHS) seniors Matt Dietz and Justin Friedrich shared their projects and answered questions about going to the state competition at the Minnesota State Science and Engineering Fair earlier this month.

Dietz's project, "Mesenchymal Stem Cells," explored how to grow stem cells into tissues useful in the treatment of Crohn's disease, and Friedrich's project, "Cardiovascular Conditioning Related to Activity," measured the effects and fitness levels resulting from participation in various school sports.

Chatfield Superintendent Ed Harris congratulated the students and thanked them for their presentations. He then commended science instructor Nora Gathje for her work with the students and for encouraging them in their endeavors.

"Congratulations to Nora Gathje for her leadership," he said. "It's clear these things don't happen without leadership. It's a tremendous example of academic excellence."

Superintendent report

Harris gave his monthly update on district happenings, including a roundup of the goals he set for himself and the district last year, noting they have been accomplished.

"We had a good discussion on my annual goals and reviewed the goals I set with the school board," he said.

Teacher evaluation planning, principal evaluation processes, the one-to-one netbook and iPad initiative, coach evaluations and changes to the district's gifted and talented curriculum have been dealt with.

He is now approaching goals for the 2014-2015 school year - teacher evaluations continue and he is working on more specific student achievements and better assessment results. Another goal is to determine how to support teachers and students in their pursuit of education and another is to implement the World's Best Workforce plan.

Harris relayed the news that the Gopher Gazette, the district's newsletter, will no longer be printed on an every other month basis, instead being published online and printed possibly only for special occasions, such as at the beginning of a new school year.

The superintendent said he will be attending a conference that will encompass a presentation from Rochester Chamber of Commerce Interim President Jerry Williams speaking on Destination Medical Center, new anti-bullying legislation requiring all schools to have a bullying mitigation plan in place, and clarification of required teacher evaluation processes.

Principal report

Chatfield Elementary Principal Craig Ihrke spoke about improved MCA testing results in comparison to last spring's reading test results. He cited, overall, there was a 10 to 15 percent improvement in students' scores, due partly to preparation and timing.

"This is the first year we've had the results immediately because we did it online," he said.

Ihrke also reported that the school held its last reading blitz on April 16, the fifth graders were at Eagle Bluff last Wednesday and Thursday, and the school has a new Minnesota Math Corps opportunity.

"We've had a Minnesota Reading Corps volunteer at the school for the past five or six years, and we were awarded a math volunteer for fourth through sixth grade," he explained. "Volunteers get a modest stipend and college credits. In the past, that's meant that our senior residents don't generally apply, but they can now transfer the college credits to their grandsons or granddaughters...and college credit is the best part."

Ihrke went on to thank the community for supporting kindergartner Caleb Eide in his long recovery from leukemia.

Community education

Chatfield's community education director, LuAnn Klevan, reported there have been changes made to the summer rec program that might help increase enrollment and encourage community involvement.

"Our focus is primarily on the summer rec program and preschool for the fall," she stated. "The registration process is in place for preschool, and about two-thirds of the spots are filled at this point. In summer rec, we're making major changes, with new activities. It's mostly been positive feedback."

She added that staff hasn't been hired yet, but that the changes included are to the baseball program - high school and college student coaches will practice with the teams during the day, and parent coaches will lead the teams during games at night.

Other business

The board voted on a resolution not to renew the contract of probationary teacher Jessica Bester, as Bester has accepted a position at another school district.

The board said farewell to employee Tonia Hareldson with thanks.

The initial readings of the elementary and student handbooks - particularly ratifying changes made to the food service procedures - were approved.

Also, the board approved the slate of winter coaches, acknowledged there is no school on May 26 in observation of Memorial Day, and graduation is set for Sunday, June 1, at 1:30 p.m.