Brothers Hank and Harvey Frederichs are both section champs going to the state meet.
Brothers Hank and Harvey Frederichs are both section champs going to the state meet.
Chatfield's school board met last Tuesday, Feb. 19, delaying its regular monthly meeting one day due to the Presidents' Day holiday on Monday.

The board commended the Chatfield High School wrestling team for its win and trip to state competition on Thursday, Feb. 28. The win and subsequent advancement raised the question as to whether or not there should be school because of the number of students likely to ask to be excused for the state tournament.

Superintendent Ed Harris stated, "I think this is a pretty unique situation since it's the only wrestling tournament that starts and ends in the same day...it makes attendance on a larger scale a desirable thing."

Board members pointed out that previous state tournaments garnered great community support, but that setting a precedent by releasing students and staff could prove difficult when other sports teams go to state.

Harris pointed out that the number of snow days taken this winter has been "peculiar," like the weather, and that having taken four snow days, the district has to make up instructional time, but would not consider making up the day taken off for the state wrestling tournament.

Board members agreed that school attendance would be low and that allowing a day off to support the wrestling team might be more beneficial.

However the board preferred to make up the snow days during spring break instead of at the end of the school year.

Reading

Teacher on special assignment Elissa Johnsrud outlined progress in the Reading Research remedial reading program, highlighting that the second semester students are "enjoying learning about their topics and are excited to share."

She and Craig Ihrke, the elementary principal, informed the board of some of the program's intended effects, such as improved reading skills and reader confidence, but also of some unintended effects, such as improved skills in math and social studies.

Ihrke said, "There's been great growth in their confidence, but we've also noticed growth in math. We think that from a confidence standpoint, that's a lot of growth. It wasn't intended, but 50 percent of students in first grade made significant gains in math."

Johnsrud spoke about the Action 100 reading program, which all Chatfield Elementary Students participate in, saying, "We've seen 1.32 years' worth of growth in reading, and 87 percent of the students are on track in their reading."

Superintendent report

Harris noted that he has presented staff and students' families with the option of a longer school year with periodic breaks included, but that most families replying to a survey on the school website prefer the traditional school calendar "two to one."

In his report, he went on to state that legislators met with the district's administration and board members, and will do so again on March 8 as Carla Nelson and Jeremy Miller observe the kindergarten classes in action.

The district has produced a video and other materials advocating for full funding of kindergarten. "Right now, in the governor's budget, there's an item addressing early childhood literacy, but what will come of that isn't certain," he said.

Harris added that Chatfield is investigating the benefits of cooperative purchasing of staff evaluation professional services and materials with other districts as it carries out teacher evaluations. "We'll see if it's a fit for us," he concluded.

Principal reports

The principals' reports were limited to Elementary Principal Ihrke's report, as Chatfield High School Principal Randy Paulson was not able to attend the February board meeting.

Ihrke related that he gave a "state of the school address" and reviewed the year's accomplishments with staff.

"We're looking at where we are currently, where we want to be and how we can get there. We'd like to make meaningful headway with students who need that extra push."

Regarding elementary school playground time, he said, "It's been a cold winter, and we stayed inside today because it was just so cold and windy, but we're looking forward to ice season ending, hopefully a short mud season and spring coming."

Other business

In smaller items, the board handled the following issue.

• The board approved the annual payment of $5,000 to CCTV for streaming video on the city's website.

• The board passed a resolution relating to the non-renewal of the contract for probationary Spanish instructor Hannah Iacarella. The board approved hiring full-time Spanish instructor Blake Jansen for the remainder of the school year.

• The district will be advertising for lawn mowing quotes for this coming summer and for the summer of 2014.

• The board approved non-certified individual contracts for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, an extension of the existing transportation contract for next year and for 2014-2015 and the 2014 senior class raffle.

• The board accepted the resignations of activities director Dan Hurley as well as the assistant football coach and B squad basketball coaches. The board will be posting these positions for replacements.

Important dates

The next meeting of Chatfield's school board is slated for March 18 at 7 p.m. at the Chatfield High School media center.

An early out is scheduled for Thursday, March 27, as staff takes the afternoon for professional development.

Spring break is to begin March 28, lasting through April 1.