By Deb Cox-Johnson
DASSEL, COKATO, MN The Dassel-Cokato School Board presented the Russell A. Johnson Courtesy and Respect award during Monday’s meeting.
The award is given monthly to a student who excels in academics, extracurricular and co-curricular activities, decision-making, and conduct. The departments nominate a student, and the rest of the staff vote on the nominations to select the top student.
This month’s award winner is Elliot Anderson, the son of Vaughn and Alyssa Anderson of Cokato. His name will be placed in a drawing along with the other monthly winners, and one of them will be selected at the end of the school year to receive a scholarship funded by the school board.
School safety review completed
Superintendent Jeff Powers reported that the safety administration committee met with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) specialists to review safety issues for the high school and middle school. The meeting was facilitated by Alisa Johnson, middle school principal.
Overall, the schools received good ratings. Some of the suggestions made by DHS would be to implement the following:
• Blue strobe lights or other exterior indicators to signal that a lockdown has been activated. This signal would be visible from outside of the building.
• Reunification practice for evacuation. This was done several years ago, but it is likely or possible that staff leaders at the school and personnel in fire and rescue may have changed.
• Consider installing more keyless entries to reduce the number of doors left unlocked for convenience. This could entail more hands-on escorting of student groups than the current patterns.
It was also suggested that concrete barriers could be placed to prevent unauthorized vehicles from approaching the entrances. This would have to be weighed against the importance of ease of approach for emergency vehicles such as fire trucks and ambulances.
Following the “no” vote on the bonding issue, the facilities subcommittee has not met. Powers indicated to the members that this subcommittee felt its purpose was to deal with the larger issues that the school would face in coordinating the major projects to be addressed if the bond issue had passed.
Board member Irene Bender stated that she thought that another purpose of the committee was to “generate a list of areas needing attention.” She indicated the need for a renovation of the choir room, as one example.
With less than the full board in attendance, further discussion was postponed until the Monday, Dec. 17 regular meeting.
Board Chair Rebecca Clemen indicated that it would be important to arrive at a decision about whether or not to pursue a future bonding question as soon as possible. Part of that process would be deciding what, if any of the items included in the last bond proposal should be resolved instead through long-term facilities funding.
Bender commented that a voter expressed to her the opinion that “the new building was the main thing, and the rest was ‘thrown in’ to the bond proposal.”
Powers emphasized the importance of articulating clearly to voters what was needed and why. This is essential should the board return to voters with either the same question, or a revised proposal.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• approved the assignment of several coaches: Ben Beckman as youth basketball community education instructor; Gaven Gillman and Brody Schmidt as wrestling coaches; Kassidy Anderson as coach for junior high gymnastics.
• approved the seniority list, which is an annual function.
• approved the addition of the book titled “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” for the high school English classes.
• discussed the possibility of inviting the Bounce Back Project from Allina Health and Buffalo Hospital to speak for 10 minutes at the January meeting.