Fillmore County Journal - COVID-19 issues dominate Chatfield School Board meetingChatfield Gophers

Chatfield School Board Meets New Food Service Director

At the school board meeting on September 14, board members Josh Thompson, Jill Harstad, Lanny Essence, and Tom Keefe, as well as Superintendent Ed Harris, Laurie Lowry, administrative assistant; and Directors Shane McBroom and Eric Nelson. Also in attendance was Trista O’Connor, Business Director; Jim Sawyer, director of the Immaculate Food Service, and Parker Bush, Representative of the Senate. Board members Katie Pribe and Matt McMahon were not present.

Board Member Thompson updated the Safety Committee Board of Directors meeting prior to the regular meeting which was attended by members of the Fillmore and Olmsted County Sheriff’s Department and members of Chatfield Fire Department, Chatfield Ambulance and Chatfield Department. Safety plans have been shared and there will be ongoing discussions with these entities.

Student Senate Representative Parker Bush updated the board about what the upcoming Homecoming Week will look like. Homecoming will be October 3-8 with dress-up days for every day of the week, a spirited festival on Friday and dancing on Saturday.

Jim Sawyer, the new Food Service Director, introduced himself to the board of directors. Talk about the changes being made in the cafeteria. A salad bar has been added and he hopes to have more chef options for students. He wants to show them that there are other options than chicken nuggets and Burger King. It engages students to find out what they are interested in eating and will add offerings to future chefs. Future plans for the after-school nutrition meal prep class can be added later. Its main goal is to arouse children’s interest in the food they eat.

Principal Eric Nelson reports that the start of school has gone very smoothly and that the new five-class 66-minute schedule model allows enough time for students to engage in many activities during a period without it being too long. Several students commented that having only five classes makes the day seem shorter despite the fact that the day is 10 minutes longer. The school spirit continues to be strong and this year the Gopher Amulet will be introduced. The application and selection process for students interested in becoming a mascot has just begun. The Gopher’s mascot will be a welcome addition to events such as Cheerleading Festivals, Farewells, Chatfield Elementary Programs, Orientations, and Western Days.

Shane McBroom, Elementary School Principal, said the revised conference days held the Thursday before Labor Day weekend and the Tuesday following it allowed teachers to collect and review all data to better prepare for the first day of school on Thursday. The new preschool car park was certainly helpful in getting young families into the building in a safer way. Looking at enrollment for this school year, primary has seen an increase of 30 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Superintendent Harris noted that the high school site project is fully functional and on budget. Work is still underway to install the drainage system near the tennis courts and trees will be planted this fall. The unmodified clean opinion audit information presented earlier in the meeting by Jason Boynton of Smith, Schaffer & Company will be sent to the district financial management advisor so that the projection forms can be updated. The FY22 budget was roughly balanced with a final unreserved balance of 2.7 million. As projected in the FY22 model and discussed in previous meetings, Harris predicts that the FY23 (and beyond) model projects deficit spending to increase. Next spring will be understandable in terms of a multi-year budget plan. Specifically, see if the positive enrollment trend is consistent and what is happening in the state legislature because it is a funding year with a large surplus in the state. Funds balance growth in the past two years can be mainly attributed to cost savings due to COVID and additional funding due to COVID. These positive effects on the budget had a moment. In other words, the public budget has been artificially supported in the past two years. Hence, the impending deficit spending cycle.

Under the approval agenda, the following new hires have been approved: Ahn Vu, high school SPED specialist assistant; Isabel Tolfson, professional assistant at Speed ‚Äč‚ÄčElementary School; Luke Taylor, Valley Land; Crystal Jorgenson, Assistant Specialist in SPED Elementary; Todd Johnson, High School Business Education 0.815FTE; Samantha Giving, Valleyland teacher; Gretchen Forbes, Long-Term Elementary High School; Claire Springer, Valleyland Assistant; Lindsey Lea / ECSE Specialist Assistant; Broden Hobbs, SPED Professional Assistant; Jim Sawyer, MLM Consultant; Cathy Gudmundson, elementary office clerk; Isabel Tollefson, Valley Land; Ryan Kivimagi, ninth-grade girls’ basketball; Justin Weiss, Technology Coordinator; Kim Debard, literary assistant; Sue Danielson, 2.5 community education assistant and Ashley Kester, primary social worker. Nate Evans’ resignation as Technology Coordinator has been accepted.

Under the Terms of Business, the Hammell Equipment Snow Removal quote was accepted and the initial certified LEVEL forecast was set at 7.06%. About 5% of that number can be attributed to high school site improvements. The Board of Directors approved $6,175 for a Mill Creek Park storage building with the city of Chatfield, and the Chatfield Fire Department and Chatfield Youth Baseball Association each contributing to the remainder of the approximately $15,000 cost.

The session was adjourned. The next board meeting will be on October 12, 2022, in the High School Forum Hall at 7 p.m.


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