The Belle Plaine School Board honored the high school dance team and one-act play participants at the regular board meeting on Monday, April 26.
The dance team made it to state in the Jazz category for the first time in school history, finishing in seventh place against a line-up of teams from much larger schools in Minnesota.
Jaelyn Borresen told school board members that going to state will always be one of the best memories of her high school career.
Crystal Keo said it was an experience that brought the team together in a year when it was difficult to form connections with other students.
“This is my family, and this is why I’m in dance,” she said.
In addition, school board members heard from one-act play participants, who starred at state this year for the 16th time.
Senior Hanna Tharaldson told the board that Belle Plaine is a small community with so many inspiring individuals.
“I’m so happy we all put in the work,” she said.
The one-act took many safety precautions to be able to rehearse in-person and record a live performance for the competition, while many other schools competed and practiced via Zoom.
American Indian Parent Advisory Council
Student Support Services Director Angie Kahle presented the school board with information about Belle Plaine’s American Indian Parent Advisory Council.
The council applied for funding for the first time this year to help Native American students receive culturally relevant and equitable education.
Currently, Belle Plaine has 34 students identifying as Native American.
Belle Plaine parent Amber Sierra, who works for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, serves on the council with her husband and son.
She told school board members it has been a great way to increase visibility for Native American students.
The council is currently working on purchasing books and other educational materials for classrooms.
Any district, charter school, or tribal school with more than 10 American Indian students is required to form a committee, and any school with more than 20 American Indian students can apply for funding for the students, according to the MDE website.
The website shows that 20 American Indian students generate a base award of $20,000, and each American Indian student beyond that generates an additional $358.
The school board voted unanimously to place one teacher on an unrequested leave of absence. Dr. Laager said Chatfield has one extra gym teacher in a position that is not needed and will be eliminated to cut costs.
He said the decision will not affect scheduling or opportunities for students.
Kyle Krueger was placed on the unrequested leave of absence due to seniority rankings. He will have first priority for the job if the position reopens within the next five years.
The board also approved the non-renewal of three probationary staff members who were hired to fill gaps related to distance learning.
These staff members are Maria Ricke, Shaniah Nunemaker, and Grace Kelly.
In addition, three staff members are resigning effective Friday, May 28. These members are Dani Allen, Special Educator at Chatfield; Amber Hagen, Speech Language Pathologist at Oak Crest; and McKenzie Parkinson, Paraprofessional at Chatfield.
Chatfield Elementary teacher Megan Doebbeling is taking a three-year leave of absence.
Health Insurance Changes
School employees will see a six percent increase in health insurance premiums for the 2021-22 school year.
Dental premiums will not increase. Chuck Keller said the district had over $400,000 in claims this year just related to COVID-19 expenses.
He said about $84,000 went to COVID-19 testing and related office visits and noted that one COVID-19 test could cost about $600.
These costs were before free tests were widely available.
He said about $329,000 in claims were made for the other complications related to COVID-19.
The insurance plan will remain the PreferredOne self funded insurance for the next two years.
The board approved a $27,000 quote for a 20’ x 48’ greenhouse and accessories from Growspan, which would be placed near the district office as an opportunity for students to learn about agriculture and food science.
This quote does not include the cost of cement, electrical, or labor.
The total project cost could be closer to $50,000 or more.
The greenhouse is part of a larger-scale plan to revamp the Career and Technical Education spaces at the school district.
The Belle Plaine Senior Prom will take place on Saturday, May 1, beginning at 3 p.m. with a grand march down Market Street, followed by a carnival party in Union Square Park until 6 p.m.
On Friday, May 7, there will be a POPS concert at 5 p.m., followed by a choir concert.
Awards night will be Wednesday, May 26, at 5:30 p.m., followed by a Dollars for Scholars ceremony.
Graduation will be on Friday, May 28, with a car parade at 5 p.m., followed by a ceremony in the gym.
School board members discussed worries that seniors may be forced to miss their graduation due to quarantine requirements and brainstormed ways to prevent this from happening.
A suggestion was made to allow seniors to distance learn for the last three days of school to reduce the risk of required quarantine.
No decision has been made at this time.
Over the weekend, four students tested positive for COVID-19, and because of state guidelines, 50 students who may have been exposed could be required to quarantine.
Dr. Laager said new guidelines would allow a student to come out of quarantine if they receive a negative test and experience no symptoms after seven days.
A board work session will be on Monday, May 10, at 6 p.m. The next regular board meeting will be on Monday, May 24, at 6 p.m.