Sleepy Eye Public School to continue with current learning model, tax levy approved

Deb Moldaschel
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

Superintendent John Cselovszki gave an update on COVID-19 numbers when the School Board met Dec. 9. As of that day two elementary students were in isolation and 24 in quarantine; in the high school one student was in isolation and 14 in quarantine. He said the school would stay the course with in-person elementary and the hybrid high school learning model.

Cselovszki reported the good news that Sleepy Eye PUblic School had been  awarded a $20,000 grant by Mary Ann Christensen and her family. Funds will be used for teacher appreciation, student incentives, social/emotional learning and transition activity supplies, creating learning and relaxation areas in the high school, STEM/CTE CNC laser engraver, and kitchen equipment upgrades.

Cselovszki also reported the joint committee on the football co-op with St. Mary’s is in the process of creating a blue print for a successful co-op and felt it was going very well.

High School Principal Shane Laffen provided the board with additional information on how the hybrid learning model (every other day in school) is going, as a follow up to last month’s discussion.

Laffen surveyed students, teachers and parents about their experiences and wishes going forward. He said teachers indicated they’d been able to successfully increase the pacing of instruction and were able to teach the essential standards. 

Students and parents were asked about the amount of work assigned; 36.7% said too much, 7.3% said too little, and 55.9% said just right. They indicated the current model should be contined and favored scheduling one day a week for students and teachers to connect without new instruction (teachers also favored this idea.)

“So, most people prefer continuing with what we’re doing?” asked board member Brian Nelson. Laffen answered, “Yes, by a three to one margin. The teachers are doing well; the early part of year was more difficult, but I think everyone is settling in now.”

Board member Casey Coulson said, “Based on the survey we should keep doing what we’re doing and see what happens in the new year. 

Action items approved:

•Activity salaries: Sandy Brinkman as 3 Act Play Director at $2,933; George Hirschboeck as 3 Act Play Technical Director at $2,185; Kate Nelson as One Act Play Director at $1,333; Mindy Berkner as JH Knowledge Bowl advisor at $715; Alyssa Stevensen as JH Knowledge Bowl assistant advisor at $612; with appreciation that students were able to have modified experiences with these activities.

•Resignation of Lori Ibberson as elementary library assistant; resignation of Janet Hansen as high school library assistant.

Business Manager Amanda Boomgarden conducted the Truth in Taxation hearing. She provided an overview of the budgets for the district’s five funds. The proposed total tax levy decreased by $23,319 or 2.03%, from Payable 2020 to Payable 2021. The board approved the budget and levy.

The board approved a resolution, brought forth by Cselovszki, to expect equity in the Minnesota State High School League additional membership fees (to cover league losses due to COVID-19) identified by school size and classification system. Cselovszki said small schools are being asked to pay proportionately more than large schools and will not pay the fee until the league addresses this concern. 

The next meeting is Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 5:30 p.m.

Board members thanked outgoing board member Jeremy Domeier for his service. “It is quite the learning experience,” Domeier said. “I’m sure you guys will do a great job going forward.”