DASSEL, COKATO, MN The Dassel Cokato School Board had an open and honest dialogue Monday night about how to present district funding needs to the public.
Board member Irene Bender brought a proposal from the Minnesota School Boards Association to the board’s attention.
For $4,200, she reported, the MSBA would provide strategic planning services to the district.
Bender, speaking on behalf of facilities sub-committee members Chuck Nelson and Superintendent Jeff Powers, indicated it might be time for the board to circle its wagons, and attempt to fully prioritize and publicize district facilities’ needs prior to another referendum attempt in fall 2018.
“There’s a general feeling we need to regroup,” Bender said. “We need to be clear what our vision is, what our mission is. It’s important to reach out now, to bring people’s opinions in,” she said. “The MSBA looks at citizen input versus district needs.”
Bender shared the MSBA offer included stakeholder engagement activities, strategic planning committee meetings, and follow-up. The MSBA process would take place during the 2017-2018 school year.
Powers noted the district had not hired an organization to assess facility needs since the 1990s. “I don’t doubt the value of the process at all,” he said. “I just question the timing.”
Powers indicated he was concerned that the MSBA process would soak up a lot of time in a school year already busy with upcoming negotiations, and might not reach any usable conclusions in a timely manner prior to the impending referendum.
Board Member Dave Sangren inquired if the MSBA might be able to complete their study more quickly.
Following a lengthy discussion, the board tasked Bender to follow up with the MSBA regarding potential time frames for strategic planning completion.
Dassel Cokato Regional Ice & Sports Center (DCRISC) creeps towards district ownership
Board Chair Rebecca Clemen reviewed the history of the DCRISC building with the board. She indicated she and Board Member Bill Aho had several meetings with DCRISC staff, in an attempt to determine a mutual course of action for the facility.
Clemen reported the DCRISC officials still intended to gift the facility to the district. She reminded the board that their consensus previously had been that the district needed to be in possession of the facility prior to taking an action with it.
Clemen now suggested the board take a more proactive stance and take a formal board vote to accept or not accept the gift of the DCRISC facility. Such a vote would show the board’s intent to use and fund the DCRISC.
The board agreed to take a formal vote on the matter at its August meeting.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• reviewed district goals that were defined at a workshop earlier this year. Goals included: review current and future facilities to ensure they best meet student and community needs; strengthen professional learning community (PLC) processes and practices; and improve the financial health of the district, with the understanding that fiscal stability supports learning.
• completed a first reading of several district policy changes relating to wellness, unpaid meal charges, school district curriculum and instruction goals; curriculum development; instructional curriculum; family engagement; graduation requirements; school district system accountability; and waste reduction and recycling. (Pending policy changes are available for review at http://www.dc.k12.mn.us/district/policies/pending_changes/pendingpolicies.html.)
• elected to increase the cost of school lunch by 10 cents, resulting in a cost of $2.05 for elementary students, and $2.10 for middle and senior high students. The increase is legislatively managed, requiring districts to gradually raise prices until they reach the current national lunch price average of $2.86.
• approved the long-term facilities maintenance revenue fiscal year plan for 2019. State statute requires the district to annually update the long-term facilities maintenance 10-year facility plan and submit it to the state for approval by July 31 each year.
The approval voted upon by the board covers fiscal year 2018-2019, and will be presented in September as a portion of the district’s preliminary levy.