Congratulations were in order from the district's administration during the March Chatfield School Board meeting last Monday evening.

The board extended accolades for Chatfield's wrestling team and its boys' and girls' basketball teams. It recognized Joel Viss for being named Section I AA and state coach of the year and Travis Bartels for being the Section I AA assistant coach of the year.

In academic honors, the board recognized the achievements of the sixth grade Academic Triathlon team, Nora Gathje's science fair students and Tom Hilgren's History Day students, all going to state competition.

The board acknowledged that the late winter has been a busy and productive time for the staff and students, and extended its commendations to all the successful people.

Principals reports

Chatfield Elementary Principal Craig Ihrke updated the board on elementary school happenings, beginning with the school's continuous improvement plan. He explained he and the staff have been working on the plan, which encompasses teacher effectiveness with "two parts - the gradual release of responsibility, or productive struggle, allowing kids to work through problems instead of the teachers helping them out...and analyzing data to set achievement goals."

Ihrke related that the professional learning communities (PLC) established for teaching staff have been meeting and "establishing baseline performance" guidelines that help them evaluate themselves and their effectiveness.

They are also setting targets for their second year of existence and preparing actions for those targets.

Ihrke thanked Chatfield United Methodist Church's pastor, the Rev. Debra Collum, and its congregation for donating granola bars for students to eat before they take MCA tests, which are quickly approaching.

Chatfield High School Principal Randy Paulson first congratulated all of the sports and academic winners, then reminded students what they post on their Facebook and Twitter accounts can have consequences, as the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) is setting policies for student social media conduct that can affect sports participation eligibility.

He went on to note that there is a possibility that the date set for graduation might change due to the accumulation of snow days. "I'll let parents and seniors know if we make a change," he said.

Action 100 report

Action 100 reading specialist Elissa Johnsrud spoke about February's "I Love to Read Month" celebration, telling the board that students earned a carnival in the gym after 90 percent or more read enough to deserve that reward.

She added the staff held a "reading blitz" in March to continue encouraging students to read, read, read.

She went on to cite that the Reading Research class has gone well and that few changes are planned, though a committee of Reading Research staff, Ihrke, Chatfield Superintendent Ed Harris and a parent representative are discussing what changes might be made.

Superintendent report

Harris's report focused on the budget, Destination Medical Center's (DMC) potential impact, state legislation changes and teacher evaluation processes.

"There's a lot going on right now," he said. "The state wrestling outcome was great, and there was tremendous fan support."

Harris told how the state is working to offer aid to mid-sized school districts that were left out of an effort to aid small school districts, or those left in the "donut hole that didn't get any help" as part of location equity revenue. "It's another layer of aid we might get...it's possible that it will pass," he explained.

Harris also reported he had attended a session in Rochester with representatives of DMC's proponents and those affiliated with the initiative. While the full effects on neighboring communities are yet to be known, they likely will touch school districts, transportation, housing, hospitality and other parts of community infrastructure.

Regarding teacher evaluations, Harris said the district is in the process of developing a state-compliant teacher evaluation system and determining how to work with staff to conduct the required evaluations.

Furthermore, principal evaluations are underway and Harris pointed out a "stakeholder survey," or a survey intended to collect direct feedback from the teachers, will probably be distributed.

"The goal is to use this to help them develop their goals...talk with staff about how their input helps, then move forward," he said.

Other business

Student Senate members Hank Frederichs and Jared Goldsmith appeared before the board to report students are collecting Pennies for Patients, half of which will go to Chatfield kindergartner Caleb Eide, who is currently ill with leukemia. Ihrke was pleased to share that Caleb was back in school for a half day and seemed excited to be with his classmates.

The March consent agenda included approving seventh grade football and softball coaches, an art club trip, the annual fifth grade Eagle Bluff trip set for April 23 through 25, the eighth grade Washington, D.C., trip set for June 23 through 29, and advertising for foodservice contracts.

The next meeting of the Chatfield School Board is set for Monday, April 21, at 7 p.m. in the high school media center. The public is welcome to attend.