MINSTER – The Minster Board of Education met Thursday, July 22, to thank various donors and to hear about back to school plans, including mask policies.
The Board accepted the following donations: $92,884.64 from the Athletic Boosters for various supplies and equipment including the new football scoreboard, speakers at the stadium, speaker system and equipment for the weight room, football, baseball and track equipment and the track resurfacing. They also accepted $2,000 from Minster McDonald’s for the Makerspace Curriculum and $1,000 from the Minster Service Club for the elementary playground expansion.
Doug Axe, technology coordinator, reported on the curriculum and instruction update. Axe said they sold 237 end-of-life Chromebooks and 60 desktops earning anywhere from $15-$60 per device. The money earned goes back into the technology fund. Third grade will be getting new chromebooks this year to stay in school and grades 4 and 9 get new devices for the one-to-one program. All elementary school desktops have been cleaned and audio enhancement systems have been replaced. Two labs, have had their computers re-imaged to improve their capabilities. He said he is currently trying to find new monitors for the teachers so the resolution matches the new and future smartboards but they have been hard to find. Axe thanked Christe Sanders and Christa Prenger for their help in cleaning and updating 850 chromebooks. He finished with thanking the community and school board for making the technology possible.
In other action, the board approved a resolution declaring the intent to place on the November ballot a renewal of their permanent improvement levy that would include an increase of tax in excess of the ten mill limitation. If approved, the current rate of .1655254 will be increased by .25 for a total rate of .4155254 mill. This tax will cost the owner of a $200,000 home $78.97 per year, an increase of $50 over the current rate.
Mask requirements and critical race theory was discussed when school district resident, Pam Marchal asked about these subjects.
The superintendent explained they will be starting the school year under normal operating procedures with masks optional for students and staff and no social distancing. She said that at this time there are no state mandates requiring students or staff to wear masks. She said they will keep in place cleaning protocols and seating arrangements were learned last year. She urged everyone to respect the wishes of those who need or want to wear a mask as the year begins.
High School principal Austin Kaylor said that in the event the virus is impacting the student body and quarantining too many students, they may need to assign seats in the cafeteria again.
In regard to critical race theory, Boeke said that is not a topic that has been discussed at Minster Schools. Kaylor added that the topic of race is discussed in social studies but not to the extent of the critical race theory.
In her report to the board, Elementary Principal Leanne Keller said a new quarterly student recognition award called the “Humble and Kind” award will be given to two students each quarter who exhibit positive social and emotional traits.
The board also approved her book bill for the next school year. She said grades 1-6 have an increase from the adoption of enVisions Math with the text cost now $16.75 ($16.50 for grade 6) per student. She added the new rate locked in for the next six years.
She added grade four fees are highest because that is the only grade level with chrome books and ‘Into Reading’ texts.
High School Principal Austin Kaylor shared the results of the spring state test saying the students did well overall. He also received Board approval for the student fees. He said the new teachers coming to the district include Brooke Schmerge (English /library aide), Seth Whiting (intervention specialist), Kristi Counts (intervention specialist), William Smith (social studies), and Kenleigh Ludlow (hunior high English). All new employees will be invited to the August board meeting.
Treasurer Laura Klosterman reported while the governor did sign the budget bill based on the new funding model, her office is still evaluating how that will impact the district. She said what they do know is that the new model no longer deducts funding for Minster resident students attending community schools and open enrollment as well as scholarships from the district’s state payment and they will not be including those students in school attendance as in the past. In FY2021. She said those deductions cost the district $264,103.44 last year.
She also reported the cafeteria ended with a positive balance thanks to the free lunch program for all students sponsored by the USDA. As a result, she said, the free lunch program will be in effect for all students this coming year.
In other reports the board heard an update to the trophy storage issue. All athletic trophies will be stored at the Halls of Hanover until the space is no longer available. The state championship and state runners up as well as the current three years of trophies are housed in the trophy cases in the school buildings.
In personnel recommendations, the board approved the following: a three-year contract for Austin Kaylor as junior/senior high school principal, and an as-needed contract for substitute summer school teacher to Heather McClurg. The board hired 25 substitute bus drivers and also approved a limited one-year contract to baseball coaches Mike Wiss and Jeff Stueve, softball coaches Robb Hemmelgarn and Nicle Driggs, track coaches, Larry Topp, Tim Thien, Jason Hemmelgarn, Seth Stammen and Becky Baumer. They also approved Emily Hider and Cristy Hess as the yearbook advisers.
The board then met in executive session to discuss the employment and compensation of a public employee. When the board reconvened, the group awarded administrative raises of 4.8% for next year.
The next regular meeting is Aug. 16, 2021, at 7 p.m.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.