School board sticks with hybrid plan for high school students

Deb Moldaschel
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

The District 84 Board of Education had one major decision on the agenda at their Aug. 12 meeting. Superintendent John Cselovszki asked them to affirm the decision to start the school year with a hybrid attendance plan for students in grades 7-12.

The board had met on July 30 to consider the governor’s guidelines for starting school. At that time, the number of COVID-19 cases per 10,000 residents, in Brown County over the past 14 days, called for a hybrid plan in high school. Sleepy Eye High School’s hybrid plan called for students to be divided into A and B groups with each group attending every other day — to reduce the number of students in the classrooms at one time.

At the Aug. 12 meeting, Cselovszki told the board that the county number had slipped just below the recommended cut-off for the hybrid plan. However, he said, in consultation with Karen Moritz, Brown County Public Health Director, he was recommending the board keep the hybrid plan in place.

During discussion, board member Casey Coulson asked if it was feasible for teachers to make a change [to all in person learning] this close to the school start date. Cselovszki replied that they need to be ready to switch plans at any time as changes are to be expected.

On Cselovszki’s recommendation, and in accordance with their discussion, the board approved the hybrid model for the high school. The board also passed a resolution giving Cselovszki the authority to make changes to the learning plan, in consultation with Brown County Public Health and board chair Darla Remus. Cselovszki told the board they would all be informed before a change is made, but a special board meeting would not be required.

After months of negotiations, board member Brian Nelson was able to report a 2019 through 2021 Master Agreement with MSEA (Minnesota School Employees Association, which represents paraprofessionals.) Nelson said those staff received a $500 increase for 2019-20 and $1 per hour increase in year two. The board approved the agreement and thanked Nelson for his professional demeanor and work with MSEA during negotiations.

Cselovszki reported enrollment numbers — elementary school: 288 (303 last year at this time); high school: 247 (260 last year) for a total of 537 students in grades K-12, a difference of 26 students, which Cselovszki said was directly related to Del Monte’s closing. “What did I say last year? I thought we’d lose 27 students,” he said.

Cselovszki reminded the board they’d planned the budget based on having 530 students, “so, we’re okay, but may have to make cuts going forward.”

Cselovszki said 8% of students have signed up for virtual learning (40-plus students). He said they will join their classes electronically and remain engaged during class time, excused only during breaks, lunch period, and phy. ed. (which they will do on their own.)

Other action:

•Approved contracts for the 2020-21 school year with Katelyn Gray, ECSE instructor and Austin Wyman, HS Language Arts instructor, both at $40,488.

•Approved resignations of Leigh Waibel, ECSE instructor; Samantha Schmit, as JH volleyball and softball coach; Tammy Lopez, paraprofessional.

•Accepted donations: 75 masks from Anita Johnson for student use; mask extenders from Mike Hose; $5,000 from Bill and Julie Ries for FFA; $1,500 from Central Region Coop for FFA.

The next meeting is Sept. 9 at 5:30 p.m.