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School board approves budget
June 28, 2019

BY GABE LICHT
Editor

DELANO, MN – After months of discussion, the Delano School Board approved the 2019-20 budget on a 5-1 vote, with Board Member Al Briesemeister opposed and Vice Chair Lisa Seguin absent.

Briesemeister did not explain the reason for his no vote during the regular meeting or the work session. During a May 23 special meeting, he expressed frustration with the process used to make about $300,000 in budget cuts, but he did not indicate that he opposed the budget overall.

The budget calls for deficit spending by $900,000 in the unassigned fund balance, bringing the general budget fund balance to $6,058,488, which is more than 12 percent of projected expenses.

In the capital budget, the district will spend $1,467,644 for long-term facility maintenance and $986,328 for operating capital, leading to $642,204 in deficit spending in that fund.

Business Manager Mary Reeder said that new language arts curriculum for grades kindergarten through fourth grade is the largest portion of the operating capital expenses.

LTFM expenses include $400,000 for parking lot repairs, $120,000 for a fire road, and $100,000 for sidewalks at the Delano Community Education building. Reeder noted the sidewalk project might be delayed if the city opts to reconstruct Second Street.

It also includes $38,000 to refinish the Tiger Activity Center gym floors and $10,000 for bleacher repairs.

“We’ve just invested $48,000 into preventable things,” Board Member Amy Johnson said during the work session, referencing damages to facilities due to spring sports teams practicing indoors.

The board approved the 2019-20 LTFM budget, as well as the 10-year LTFM budget, separately.

The 10-year LTFM budget calls for nearly $10 million in spending through fiscal year 2029.

In other budget-related business, the board approved the new language arts curriculum for grades kindergarten through fourth grade.

“The biggest thing missing was we should have had teachers present,” Board Member Rachel Depa said of the May 20 meeting at which the curriculum was first discussed.

She added that she and fellow Board Member Jennie Rosenow had since met with teachers regarding the curriculum.

“The insight they gave us into the curriculum was much more than we got from (Director of Teaching and Learning) Joe (Vieau),” Depa said. “It meets the standards I was looking for. After talking with them, I’m more comfortable with it.”

Q Comp
Quality Compensation advisors Meghan Gibas and Maria Menz presented to the board about that program.

They noted that about 80 percent of all teachers surveyed had a favorable view of the program.

Menz said changes were made after no Q Comp goals were met during the 2017-18 school year.

At Delano Elementary School, Q Comp goals will be based off of Formative Assessment System for Teachers tests that are taken in the fall and the spring instead of Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments that are only taken once a year.

At the high school, tests will be proctored by teachers in the content area being tested, which was already the case for students in seventh and eighth grade. Students are required to stay in the classroom for the entire time allotted for the tests.

“In speaking with a lot of teachers, there were kids who used the entire time because they knew they had to stay there and didn’t have to rush,” Menz said. “I feel it was valuable time for those kids, and something we will continue to do next year.”

Symposiums will also continue. During the 2018-19 school year, eight symposiums were offered.

Policies
The board approved the first of two reads of three different policies.

Policy 506 relates to student discipline.

Superintendent Matt Schoen said principals refer to the policy when they draft the handbooks for their respective schools.

The policy includes references to electronic cigarettes and tobacco-related electronic devices.

According to the policy, students are not allowed to possess, distribute, intend to distribute, solicit, or be under the influence of narcotics not under the direction of a physician.

Depa asked if the policy pertained to the use of medicinal marijuana.

Schoen said it could be used before or after school. He expects policy changes related to medicinal marijuana in the near future.

There are also rules and regulations students must abide by when it comes to devices, whether they be for personal use or assigned by the school.

Another change relates to students on individualized education plans.

“When you’re talking about the suspension of a student that’s disabled, when you hit the mark of five or 10 days, you need to have a manifestation determination meeting,” Schoen said. “The school district can still decide to suspend the student. If it is a manifestation of a disability, obviously administration is going to look at it and say, if it’s truly connected to a disability, there are other ways to deal with it . . . There’s a whole process we go through with students on IEPs when it comes to discipline decisions.”

Policy 213 relates to school board committees.

The district added the Delano City/School Committee and the Spirit of Community Commission.

The board does not currently have a member on the Spirit of Community Commission, as the district is represented by Community Education Director Diane Johnson and Delano High School teacher Joe Lawrence, but has had members on it in the past and could again in the future.

Another change is that the curriculum advisory committee is now the district advisory committee.

Policy 215 relates to student school board representatives.

The program was started in 2013. It used to begin in June and include two seniors. Now, it begins in September and includes one junior and one senior for the sake of continuity from year to year.

Odds and ends
In other business, the board:

• approved five-year strategic plan adjustments that were discussed at a May 23 meeting and detailed in the May 31 edition of the Delano Herald Journal.

• learned from DES Principal Darren Schuler that 27 of 29 teachers participated in the student success team that evaluated and supported 61 students. Of those students, 52 were able to be supported without a special education referral. Of the 10 who went to special education referrals, nine qualified. There are 12 students on the watch list for 2019-20, which is less than in previous years.

• accepted $51,804 in donations from 14 different entities.

• approved personnel matters, including the retirement of Delano High School counselor Susan Farbo; the resignation of Early Childhood Family Education educator Elaine Heeren; the termination of DHS custodian David Velner; the hiring of Cheyanne Lemmerman as head cheer coach; the contracted hires of seventh- and eighth-grade language arts teacher Breeze Bestland, DHS special education teacher Megan Hovick, DHS counselor Katherine Larson, DHS special education teacher Kaitlin Pear, Delano Intermediate School special education teacher Josie Sayre, DIS special education teacher Danielle Scanlon, DES second-grade teacher Lindsey Westphal, and DHS physical education teacher Carrie Wittenberg; and a contract change for Heidi O’Donnell to move from DHS language arts teacher to Gifted and Talented teacher. The board also approved 2019-21 agreements with Food Service Director Kris Larson, food service staff, Tiger Activity Center Coordinator Kim Finn, volunteer coordinators Margaret Max and Shelley Hutchins, Youth Development Coordinator Chris Runke, and Tiger Kids Club Coordinator Rebecca Seiberlich.

• approved the DES and DIS handbooks. Changes were discussed during the May 20 meeting and reported in the May 24 edition of the Delano Herald Journal.

• approved the school district population, which was up from 11,915 to 12,156. This number drives the community education funding levy.

• approved a memorandum of understanding with the Wright County Sheriff’s Office for the transportation of foster care students.

• approved an extended field trip request from the dance team to attend a Just For Kix camp at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, IA.

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