By Jordan Gerard

Editor, The Caledonia Argus

Students at Caledonia High School will have an opportunity to learn and exercise career technical skills, after the board approved permission to join the Business Professionals of America (BPA) organization at its regular Nov. 15 meeting. 

Career and Technical Education teacher Teri Larson presented to the board, and said about 12-20 students showed interest in joining the group. BPA encourages students to join the group and promotes self-improvement, leadership, professionalism, career development and cooperation. 

The main part of BPA that students will participate in is the Workplace Skills Assessment Program that will “provide all business students with the opportunity to demonstrate workplace skills (things they learn in class).”

Similar to FFA contests or conventions, students can compete against other students in Minnesota and around the nation in categories such as finance, business administration, management information systems, digital communication and design, management, marketing and communication and health administration. 

BPA maintains about 1,800 chapters in 25 states and Puerto Rico, and has an international presence in China, Haiti and Peru. Students must be enrolled in a business course in order to join. Caledonia would be enrolled in Region 3, which includes schools such as Lewiston-Altura, Triton, Stewartville, Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton, Rochester Century and John Marshall. 

Larson added that the Perkins Foundation would fund the Caledonia chapter’s start up fees and travel. After that, the club would be self-supported. 

The board approved the motion to join BPA, and middle/high school principal Nathan Boler thanked Larson for her hard work in pulling the membership together, adding that it is a great opportunity for students. 

ESSER funds

The board discussed at length how ESSER funds should be spent. The district has until September 2024 to use the funds. Superintendent Craig Ihrke and finance director Barb Meyer presented two state forms that listed what current needs the district had, any learning gaps or needs that were missing during Covid-19 (field trips, for example) and addressing any other social and emotional needs the district had. The funds should help the district fill in those needs, but the bigger question is: How will the district continue filling those needs after the aid ends? The board did not take action on the matter.  

Administration reports

Elementary principal Susan Link reported teachers and staff were learning through professional development. She thanked Bob Burmester for painting four square and hopscotch numbers on the playground. There will also be a pickleball court painted in the spring for students to learn how to play. 

Middle/high school principal Nathan Boler said he and Ihrke were working on an application process to become a state-recognized Online School Provider and talking to Spring Grove and Mabel-Canton about the online program partnership. Boler also worked with food service director Rachel Stackhouse to apply for a “First Bite Grant” that could provide the school up to $5,000 to purchase local goods to serve at lunch. Wholesome Family Farms is also working with the school on that grant. 

Boler reported he started a “Homework Help” session twice weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and was going to try a virtual homework help session on Mondays. 

Community education director Gretchen Juan said they screened 25 students for kindgarten. They are also looking for more School Age Care staff and Surround Care staff to allow more students to join. An ACT prep course will be available in February and March.

Ihrke thanked both Link and Boler for their work on the Veterans Day programs and said he was impressed with students’ behavior. He also thanked fall sports and activities coaches, advisors and participants, and wished winter sports and activities best of luck this season. 

Meyer reported she was wrapping up audit work and ESSER forms. 

World’s Best Workforce

The school board set its 2021-22 World’s Best Workforce goals. 

The first goal was to have 90% of Hand-in-Hand four-year-old preschool students will reach the Fastbridge spring benchmark composite score of 32.0 or greater.

Students in grades 3-5 will increase proficiency on the MCA reading test from 67.5% to 69.5%. In the previous year, students exceeded this goal with 73.6%.

All students career- and college-ready by graduation was set with 100% of seniors having a goal sheet set and long-range plan written and in their personalized folder. 

The district met its one-year goal of having 95% of students graduating last year, but typically gradutes 100%. Three students did not graduate, and the district believes the pandemic played a significant role in two of the three students not graduating.

More news

The board accepted three Warrior Pride donations. The first was a monetary donation for co-curricular and curricular activities from the family of Bob Stark. The second was 79.5 hours selling tickets during 25 sporting events this fall from the Caledonia Lions Club. The third was from Houston High School, who allowed Caledonia to borrow its gym floor protector during the TRC Honor Band and Choir event. 

The board approved a motion to not enter into a reciprocity agreement if one presented itself this year.

Board member Spencer Yohe said he would be part of the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA) delegation assembly that would present to the Minnesota legislature in support of a resolution that will ease requirements for substitute teachers in order to address the shortage. 

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Caledonia School Board will be Dec. 20, at 6 p.m. in the auditorium.

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