Outgoing school leader thanked
By Valerie Scherbart Quist
The District 2904 Board of Education enjoyed a light agenda Monday at its December meeting.
The meeting was the last for board member Tom Hook, who is ending a nine-year tenure on the board. Supt. Chad Anderson and Board Chair Rod Benson both praised Hook for his work on the board and commitment to the district.
When asked if he had anything he would like to say, Hook commented, “It’s all about the kids.”
Benson said he remembered attending Phase I school board training with Hook when a speaker told them just that. He said it was something that he felt had impacted both of them, and he commended Hook for always sticking by that philosophy.
Hook said he also felt that being open and honest with the taxpayers and cultivating a good relationship with the district employees were also important.
Supt. Anderson said that he had intended to present Hook with a plaque at the board meeting, but due to inclement weather and other unforeseen circumstances, the award did not make it to Tracy. He will receive the plaque in the near future.
Activities/Community Ed. Director Bill Tauer asked the board to approve two volunteer coaches for dance, Brianna Anderson and Morgan Hansen. The board later approved this action, pending the completion of paperwork.
Tauer asked for the board’s guidance regarding the 2015-2016 winter schedule. He said that at this time, it is unknown which subsection Tracy-Milroy-Balaton will be in next winter. As a result, it is difficult to schedule games. Currently, the district schedules 24 games for boys’ and girls’ basketball. The Minnesota State High School League allows up to 26. Tauer asked if the board would be in favor of scheduling 25 games next year, one of which could be dropped from the schedule at a later date. If he were to wait until March, when the subsection placement will be known, to make the schedule, that would be difficult to do, Tauer said. The board advised Tauer to do what he thinks is best, including scheduling 25 games if needed.
Tauer approached the board about the nameplates on the Wall of Fame, something he has brought up in the past. He said that the current nameplates are not uniform, and the result looks somewhat sloppy. He said he would like the board to consider having the nameplates all redone, at an estimated cost of $1,000, when it comes time to select capital projects for next year.
Tauer acknowledged the purchase of an elliptical machine and sound system for the multi-purpose athletic facility by the Panther Booster Club, at a cost of $5,000. He said he wanted the board and the community to be aware of the many ways the Booster Club benefits the school.
Panther cards are still in use, Tauer informed the board, and to date have brought the district $33,000 in donations. Tauer said he would like to make a push for people to start using their cards more, and let them know that they can use them in many other communities in the region in addition to Tracy.
Principal Kathy Vondracek was unable to attend the meeting, but submitted a report in writing. Highlights included that speaker David Eisenmann will make a presentation to all students in grades 7-12 on Tuesday, Dec. 23 at 8 a.m. about cyberbullying, misuse of technology, and responsibility of technology use.
Teachers Dan Wahl and Brian Michelson wrote an Innovative Grant for the ICU Database. When missing assignments are entered into the database, parents will receive an email and text message concerning the assignment. A parent letter emphasizing the “ICU” philosophy will be going out at the end of this week, plus a letter to 8th grade parents about the NAEP test in February.
Principal Michael Munson reported that a Breakfast with Santa event was held this week. Each student who brought a food item for the food shelf was put into a drawing to have Breakfast with Santa. A total of 150 students brought an item, and 20 names were drawn. They enjoyed breakfast with Santa on Dec. 15 at Subway. Students donated a total of 250 pounds of food through this event, in addition to the 750 pounds collected in a student council drive prior to Thanksgiving. Munson thanked Subway for donating the breakfasts for the students.
Recent PLC sessions have been spent on updating webpages, Munson said. Teacher and school webpages have not been updated for a while, so they worked on a number of items for teacher sites. Munson said this is in line with the focus that has been in place all year: to get as much information as possible to parents, since they are partners in their child’s education.
Supt. Anderson reported on a number of items, including a requirement for the Affordable Care Act for large employers to track hours of part-time employees who do not have set hours. This includes coaches, advisors, and board members. All large employers are required to develop a methodology for tracking these hours if or when they are audited by the IRS.
Anderson notified the board of a ballot for MREA Board of Directors candidates, and a vacancy on the Southwest Regional Development Commission for a school board representative.
The staff Christmas party for district employees will be held this Thursday at The Caboose. Anderson encouraged board members to stop by.
Anderson talked with the board about the Health Insurance Transparency Act, which requires most school districts to seek at least three bids every two years for group insurance coverage. No funding was allocated by the legislature to assist school districts to meet these requirements, but HITA permits school districts to meet these obligations through joint powers entities such as the Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative. The service cooperative will make HITA compliance services available at no cost to member employers currently enrolled in coverage through a service cooperative pool.
In other business:
• The board voted in favor of a motion to approve the Minnesota Dept. of Education Levy Limitation Certification 2014 Payable 2015 Report of $1,386,086.52, a decrease of $41,796 or three percent from last year.
• The Staff Development Report Statement of Assurances was approved. Included on the report are the district’s goals for improving student achievement for 2013-2014.
• The board held a first reading of the MSBA/MASA Model Policy 713 for Student Activity Accounting (see related story).
• The resignation of Megin Nordby, paraprofessional at Little Panthers Preschool, was approved.