By Jennie Zeitler
The Upsala School Board discussed a number of different options, and the nuances which might go along with each one, at the June board meeting, Wednesday.
It was all a part of planning for the unknowns of the 2020-21 school year. The questions and conversation mainly addressed how to accommodate different students, parents and employee’s needs while opening the school as much as possible.
“From what I’m hearing on the street, I’d like to see us with the most aggressive back-to-school we can,” said Board President Dean Peterson.
“That’s definitely where the sentiment is,” said Supt. Vern Capelle.
Regarding a recent virtual meeting with State Rep. Ron Kresha, Capelle communicated to Kresha that
“I’m advocating we get as much local control as possible,” Capelle said.
Many different possibilities and options were brought up, starting with special needs students.
“If we have high-risk kids, how will they be accommodated?” asked Stephen Roerick.
There weren’t specific answers to many of the questions in what is still the early part of the planning.
“We’ll have an option that will accommodate any student whose parents choose to keep them at home but to not homeschool,” Capelle said.
“Or if parents are vulnerable and don’t want their kids going to school and bringing anything home,” Peterson said.
Capelle pointed out that four of the six school bus drivers are over 65-70 years old.
“There are possibilities all around and we have to make sure we’re creative and flexible,” he said.
One of the goals for fall preparedness is to get enough Chromebooks so that every student in grades 4-12 has one. The district would also like to offer wireless hotspots for checkout to families.
“We have to do more research on that,” Capelle said.
Trying to keep outside contact as minimal as possible within the school buildings, the district is looking at a model where no outside substitute teachers are hired.
Some of the district’s paraprofessionals are licensed to teach, he added.
The district has not received any new homeschool requests.
Upsala School Board Briefs
Other business coming before the Upsala School Board, Wednesday, included:
• Adopted the Fiscal Year 2021 budget as presented. General fund revenue is $4.510 million with expenditures of $4.503 million. Food Service fund revenue is $236,630 with expenditures of $236,001. Community Service fund revenue is $181,032 with expenditures of $88,844;
• Adopted the K-12 Principal agreement with Nick Klug for 2020-2023;
• Approved the at-will employee compensation increases as presented, with Board Member Ryan Thomas abstaining;
• Approved the membership renewal for Minnesota Rural Education Association for 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, due to a 15% discount for renewing two years. “They’re working for us better than we can do ourselves,” said Dean Peterson, board chair;
• Approved a quote of $1,118.73 from Mid-Central Door to replace the kitchen entry door with a metal louvered door. It will then meet the health code and fire code;
• Approved a quote of $5,254.85 from Hennen Floor covering to remove and replace the tile floor in the FACS Lab and the laundry room;
• Approved the quote of $15,990 from Mike Schaefer for parking lot repair, sealcoating and striping. This includes all blacktop area around the campus;
• Approved a statement of Conflict of Interest by Dean Peterson;
• Approved the quote from Upsala Motors for fleet and vehicle maintenance at $85 per hour with Dean Peterson abstaining. It was the only bid the district received;
• Adopted a resolution to establish dates for filing affidavits of candidacy for school board positions, July 28-August 11. Seats held by Dean Peterson, Karen Nelson and Andy Wensmann will be up for election; and
• Approved donations of $24 by anonymous for the playground, $200 by Resurrected Artists for drama and $10,000 by anonymous for the 2020-2021 school year. “Whoever you are, we thank you,” Peterson said.
The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the Upsala School Board will be Wednesday, July 22, at 7:30 p.m. in the high school media center.