Bells rang today, August 17, to announce the first day of the 2022 -2023 school year in Milbank. Over 1,030 students reported to their classrooms.
The district also welcomed 17 new staff members and 13 open-enrollment students. According to Superintendent Justin Downes, last year, on September 30, enrollment sat at 985 in K-12, including the contracted students.
Downes said, “On in-service day, it was 82 students in and 25 out. So, 25 kids from last year left the district for whatever reason, but we gained 82 new faces. And that number has grown since in-service day. Keep them coming!”
For 2022-2023, the 13 open-enrollment students include two kindergarteners, two first graders, two fourth graders, and one each in fifth, sixth, and seventh grades. At the high school, each grade has one open-enrollment student.
At the recent school board meeting, MHS principal Dan Snaza noted “We have 365 students registered for high school, and I don’t remember the number being that high since I’ve come back. It creates some problems – some good problems. We could use another section of chemistry. So many kids want chemistry!” They also have 25 students signed up for debate class.
Snaza added, “There are a few big classes like that, but it’s just the way it’s going to be. Tammy and Heidi did a really good job of trying to even out classes so they’re not overly crowded.”
Dave Graf, principal of Milbank Elementary reported, “Open House was very well attended. The kids were excited. They got to meet their teacher, put their things away, and see their classroom. We also welcomed a lot of new families to the building and to the district. So, that’s a good thing.”
The board of education also approved the hiring of Bailey Richter as a middle school basketball coach, and Tony Howard as an assistant girls basketball coach. They approved the hiring of Maria Fonder and Angela Johnson as paraprofessionals. Karen Vaudrey, Wanda Bohn, and Sherri Veen were approved as new kitchen employees. A written resignation was received from Alexandra Gimbel, a member of the kitchen staff. Bridget Korstjensas was approved as a fall OST worker. A lane change to Lane 3 Step 13 was approved for Brittni Cordingley. They also approved adding Michelle Benike to the MIT (18-21 program) checkbook
Marie Ivers, special services director’s report indicated that quite a few new students with special needs have enrolled and additional paraprofessional and special ed staff are needed.
Due to a change in federal reimbursements, the board voted to change the adult lunch price to $4.85. The price of milk decreased to $.50.
Superintendent Downes reviewed the policy for those who test positive for Covid. As of now, it includes: Stay at home for five days and then return for five days wearing a mask. He said the item will remain on the monthly agenda until September 2023. After that, no update will be required.
The board approved the withdrawal of a bid for a Ford Suburban submitted by Unzen Motors. Downes explained that factories have shut down production on the 2022 models. The variation of the specs and pricing for the 2023 models rendered the bid they received unacceptable. The board will now look for new bids for 2023. They also approved advertising for a vehicle.
Downes said, “Banners are back up in the gym. The expansion project is coming along. We’re actually quite a bit ahead on foundation work. They are working on getting the parking lot up to grade and then they’ll bring in some crushed asphalt and make the transition into the shop smooth again.”
He also updated the board on the progress of the Family Consumer Sciences (FACS) kitchen. “It’s close,” he said. “We’re waiting for electrical inspections so we can get the ceiling tiles put back in. A few countertops need to be touched up, and mop boards need to be placed. There’s a little bit of work for the plumber to do such as cutting in sinks, but otherwise I’m hopeful by the end of the day tomorrow, it’ll be student friendly.” The board approved declaring six kitchen stoves and a refrigerator as surplus.
Downes reported an OST grant for $19,000 was received. The Fresh Fruits and Vegetable grant for $31,875 will allow fresh foods to be served four days a week this year,” Downes said, “Last year, we ran out of funds facing the food cost. Everything’s going up and the dollar will only stretch so far. So, we will attempt to go four days a week for as long as possible.”
The next meeting of the Milbank School District Board of Education is slated for Monday, September 12.
Top Photo: Elementary Principal Dave Graf greeting students with high-fives. Submitted Photo: Front left-Nicole Stengel, Bailey Richter, Hannah Rick, Michele Benike, Morgan Schmitt, Sara Colombe
Middle left-Hether Voeltz, Anne Lester, Nicole Scott, Brittney Pohlen, Marie Ivers, Laura Dallman
Back left-Ashlee Hausmann, Kris Street, Kellie Christians, Emma VanVooren, Brody Gilbertson