School board approves trap shooting, hears TRIO update, unpacks grad rates

by Barbara Cameron

The Deer River school board held its March meeting on the 9th with all directors present but Sarah Bellefy. In addition to usual business, they heard from a guest speaking on the trap shooting addition to student activities and others giving a TRIO update.

Board Chair Brad Box had everyone recite the flag pledge and afterwards announced the changes to the agendas. The agendas were approved, and Superintendent Matt Grose introduced the first guest.

Bill LaPlant is president of the group known locally as the Grand Rapids Gun Club. They started the youth trap shooting project in Grand Rapids last year, with the intention of using grant monies to move into surrounding school districts. They had 35 kids from Grand Rapids last year, and 41 have signed up this year.

LaPlant is looking for approval from ISD 317 to be able to sign off with the state organization. The fee per student is $230, which covers the equipment and the liability insurance beyond what they already have. He compared it to the NRA program as far as how the league scoring and state competition is organized.

He said they were looking for adult volunteer help for this non-profit organization in the Deer River area. Registrations into the state system needed to be made by the Friday the 13th.

Box asked if this is recognized as a Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) activity; it is. Wednesday nights are the shooting times, with Saturdays for make-ups.

Box noted that this was an activity similar to bowling and rodeo. It doesn’t involve lettering at this point, but it is certainly possible in the future.

A motion was made, seconded and unanimously carried to approve trap shooting as another MSHSL activity for Deer River students.

TRIO is a name given to a group of federal programs developed to help students who need assistance in college access. Lael Storlie has been working with embedding the program into 6th through 9th grade classes with career and college guidance help. A full developmental guidance program requires a lot of manpower behind it, she noted.

Tanis Henderson continued the story. This year the entire 9th grade class will take a field trip to both a technical college and a four-year school to stress the fact that “college” can mean a lot of different things. When they return they will compare and contrast the schools.

Equity work has been on-going. About 12-14 people attended the three different community conversations that were held in Ball Club, Deer River and Inger.

They are switching gears now to move into the 100 one-on-one conversations with students and recent alumni. Over the summer they will look at what they’ve learned and plan to report back to the board with an action plan.

Attendance was the last thing they wanted to bring up. The point made was that it takes the whole community to make sure that every student gets to school. A woman from Ross Resources’ Truancy Prevention Program showed the board what they would be giving all school staff people to further underline their important role in kids’ attendance.

One student from 6th, 7th or 8th grade who has perfect attendance will receive four tickets to a Twins game, a further incentive to keep up the good work.

Regular business included approval of minutes from the Feb. 9 meeting; the February financials; the consent agenda; and the health and safety contract. All were approved on individual motions.

The consent agenda had several items. There will be seven additional service days for this year on Jennifer Stefan’s contract as the elementary dean of students. Lisa Shea is hired as special education administrative assistant, effective July 1 through June 30 of next year. A long-term substitute para at the high school will be hired through April 30, 2015. Two professional services with ISD 316 were approved: for autism services and for physical and other impaired services.

Consent also approved the hiring of several coaches and advisors for 2014-2015. Jim Erzar is baseball head coach, while Jim Thompson and Mike Fairbanks are assistant coaches; Mike Valentyne coaches 7th and 8th boys baseball; Derek Goggleye is the softball head coach, with Bill Plate the assistant coach; David Hack is head track coach, with Matt Carlstrom and Katie Hanson the assistant coaches; Phill Hermel and Jordan Osse are head golf coaches. Angela Schanley-Miller is the Math Masters advisor.

Patrice Curtiss will retire June 1 and Jamie Daigle will take unpaid medical leave through April 10. The final item on the consent agenda was acceptance of a $500 donation from the Blandin Foundation for Post-Prom.

Grose spoke to the health and safety contract. It is run out of the capital budget, and in the past there had been a co-op arrangement with the Northeast Service Cooperative as a reseller. Now the co-op will be offering the service directly, and Grose said this “will be a better service for us over time and give us greater stability.” He said it would be a $1,500 cost difference at most. There was no further discussion, and the motion to approve was carried.

A draft of the 2015 – 2016 school calendar was presented for informational purposes. Grose said there were a lot of constraints in this one because of the late start. It has 171 student days and 182 teacher days. Essentially, time has been shaved from the Christmas break. Grose didn’t think the Legislature was going to instigate any changes in flexibility this time, as the Department of Education has denied the four-day week plans that some districts have been trying.

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