Minster Schools prepare for reopening of district


By Sandy Rose Schwieterman - For the Sidney Daily News



MINSTER – Minster Schools is planning to open to a full schedule and at Monday night’s Minster School Board meeting, a draft school reopening plan was presented. Also, following an executive session, top school administrators received a salary increase.

The draft school reopening proposal, handed out by Superintendent Brenda Boeke, will have Minster students in session 5 days a week with in-person instruction beginning Wednesday, August 26.

She added parents not wishing to send their child to school this fall should contact the building principal to make arrangements for online learning.

The draft report also noted should there be an increase in COVID-19 cases in Minster, they may need to close the buildings and return to remote learning.

Visitors will be discouraged from being in the buildings, and parents are asked to call or use the vestibule intercom when picking up students.

In general, all possible ways will be employed to keep shared surfaces clean and to maintain social distance. Parents are asked to do their part by checking student temperatures before they leave for school.

A copy of the complete report can be found at the Minster Board web page under the Superintendent Report https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nLfQ6bLNE_s8YWGSAL9EjAzPnK7gUPaL/view

She said the plan will now go to the District Leadership Team for any additional revisions and then shared with all employees and parents.

K-6 Principal Leanne Keller commended her Building Leadership Team on their ability to problem solve to develop the reopening plan. Also, she showed the changes to the handbook and the school fees for this year.

Junior/Senior High Principal Austin Kaylor also commended his Building Leadership Team on their willingness to work through the reopening plan at the high school.

Kaylor also shared the changes to his handbook and the school fees as well as the state’s guidance on end of course exam results and the AP scores from last spring’s testing. He commended the AP teachers on a great job preparing their students to take the exam remotely.

The board accepted with sincere thanks a donation of $5,580.86 from the Academic Boosters for teachers requests paid for by the proceeds from the Oktoberfest booth.

In the update for the school remodeling, the board learned the school administration is waiting on Regal Plumbing and Heating and Sollmann Electric to complete their testing and balancing and open punch list items. Until then, final pay requests and the retainage are not made until all items are complete.

They also learned Dorsten, Midwest Environmental and A1 Sprinklers have had their close out documents processed as all work is complete.

The curriculum and instruction update was given by Technology Coordinator Doug Axe. He said the plan for 1:1 chromebooks will add a grade and include grades 4-12 this coming year.

He also said the district has enough chromebooks for each student in grades 2-3 to have/use the same device each day. Kindergarten and first grade will use iPads in their classrooms.

Axe thanked Christe Sanders and Christa Prenger for their work cleaning, updating and reassigning chromebooks over the summer.

Further technology improvements that took place over the year included upgrades to two of the computer labs and classroom clocks. Plans for new purchases include document cameras and Screencastify to assist in remote learning for the future.

Finally, he said Watch Communications was interested in adding a wireless access point in the parking lot to provide WiFi access to the community. The additional point would allow access for 7-10 people but would be unfiltered. It would have to be located far enough away from the buildings so students would not be able to access the connection over the school’s connection.

Additionally he reminded the board the school district currently has two access points outside the high school to provide service for any school-owned devices.

Ultimately, the board felt it wasn’t in the best interest of the district to add the access point and suggested Axe send Watch to the village to possibly use at Four Seasons park.

In the treasurer’s consent agenda, the board approved the minutes, financial report, and payment of bills.

The board also approved risk insurance and approved a Now and Then certificate for the 2020 FB equipment.

In Treasurer Laura Klosterman’s report, she said the governor indicated no additional cuts to school funding beyond the current 5% deduction that would occur this school year.

She said she is waiting for the tax filings and withholdings in the July and October settlement to see the impact of the income tax loss.

An additional concern is the cafeteria fund, Klosterman said. The loss of sales from March, April and May, while continuing to pay salary costs, greatly impacted the cafeteria budget. At this time the board has chosen not to raise lunch prices but may need to raise prices next year, if the cafeteria budget is not solvent after this year..

She also noted the truck that was purchased prior to COVID-19 arrived and the old truck currently has two bids on public surplus.

In the superintendent’s consent agenda the board approved the bus routes for 2020-21 (in town routes are discontinued which includes Line Drive, Rosebud and Stonegate), approved fees for 2020-21 school year, adopted elementary. and high school handbooks, reviewed athletic handbook. In regard to athletic ticket prices the Board approved the current rates, but acknowledged that season tickets will not be sold until the school knows for certain there will be a fall season. They also authorized the superintendent to waive and reduce fees for those who qualify.

In new business the board declared transportation of non-public student impractical and offered in lieu of transportation $571 per student for $2,284 to the family impacted.

The board approved a personnel recommendation to hire Sandy Hoying as head cook. They also approved supplemental pay for advisers and fall coaches, contingent upon them meeting all coaching required training.

The board also hired all bus drivers as sub bus drivers to allow them to drive for any extra curricular trips prior to the August Board meeting. At that time the district will hire route drivers when it is known if school will begin as scheduled.

The board went into executive session for the purpose of employment and compensation of a public employee. Following the executive session, the board approved a 1% increase for the administration including principals, superintendent, treasurer, school psychologist and director of student services.

They also voted to approve a $500 cell phone stipend for the superintendent, principals, director of student services, technology coordinator, maintenance supervisor and treasurer.

Finally, the board approved five vacation days for principals to be used during the 2020-21 school year.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 17, at 7 p.m. in the elementary large group meeting room.

By Sandy Rose Schwieterman

For the Sidney Daily News

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.