The Milbank School District Board of Education held their regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday, March 13.
School Board Election Superintendent Justin Downes noted candidates for the upcoming school board election must file their petitions by Sunday, March 26, at 5 p.m. in order to be eligible for the election on June 6. One term, currently held by Milt Stengel, expires this year.
Make-Up Days in May The board decided any snow days taken during the remainder of this year would be made up in May. Downes, explained, “We’ve had nine official snow days this year, plus we’ve had a significant amount of short days due to two hours late starts.” Downes said, “A lot of times, it happens (storms) at night or early morning, long before the plows ever have a chance to get out. So we end up with way more late starts than early dismissals.”
Downes also pointed out, “Our district is huge, and the folks in Strandburg have a very different experience than the ones in Big Stone at times and vice versa. We understand a day like today where there are places the buses just can’t get to. We have done e-learning on five days, so we definitely know what it can look like,” he continued, “but we also value having as much time in front of teachers engaged in in-person learning as possible.”
Staffing Changes The board considered several motions regarding staffing. Diane Berkner’s retirement as a Title paraprofessional was approved. Angelica Duron Delgado’s resignation as a paraprofessional was also approved. Elsie Bowsher was added to the list of substitute teachers, effective immediately.
Several additions to the staff for the 2023-2024 school year were also approved. The board voted to allow Bre Schwandt to move from her current position as a teacher to a position as a behavioral specialist. Anna Hamm was hired as the new Spanish teacher. Laura Flores and Herendira Salazar Fuentes were hired as paraprofessionals.
Amy Thue and Brody Gilbertson were approved to be volunteer track coaches for the spring athletic department. Kelly Christians was approved as a volunteer track coach for the middle school. Amber Siderewicz was approved as a volunteer softball coach.
The board also approved the summer OST staff. Members include: Leslie Tol, Kellie Christians, Katie Wollschlager, Lorrie Hardy, Ella Kasuske, Janell Reyelts, Mason Cordingley, Bridget Korstjens, Matti Scott, Elyse Reede, and Ella Sandvig.
Superintendent Downes presented an update on the CTE expansion project. He said, “The crane started putting on roof joists today. By next month’s meeting, we should have a fully-roofed expansion project. Our goal is to be in by the start of next school year.”
Downes reported that the two roofs above the theatre will reach the end of their life expectancies in the next two to four years. “If not this summer, then next summer, we will have to go to bid and replace the roofs above the seating and above the stage itself, ”he commented. Estimates are in the $300,000- plus range.
Results from Family-Friendly Walk Through Results from The Family-Friendly Walk Through conducted on February 6 were presented by Nicci Stengel. N. Stengel explained, “The (evaluator) looked at the physical environment. and school-wide practices of our learning connections, written materials, and communication. For our physical environment, we had a lot of positive attributes– there’s a strong sense of school spirit and community support.” N. Stengel related. “The evaluator noted we need to improve our external signage to highlight where visitors enter, and we need to improve internal signage by having clear visual directions in both English and Spanish.”
“Our top recommendations were to provide all communication in the languages that represent the student population, to provide learning sessions for families, to provide a variety of opportunities for family engagement and involvement, and to schedule school-wide events at convenient times for families,” N. Stengel stated. “About 210 families and staff responded to the surveys we sent out, and the responses were very positive. We have created a team to assist with these recommendations that include administration, teachers, support staff, and parents.”
According to N. Stengel, the evaluator commented that out of all the schools she’d ever assessed, Milbank had the most community support.
Other Business A vote by the board kept the rates for driver’s education classes the same as last year.
The board approved Max Schuelke’s out-of-state travel for the National Debate Competition. The event will be held in Phoenix from June 11–17.
Ryan Scoular, principal at Milbank Middle School, reported the student council has been doing fundraising projects and collecting donations for the local food pantry.
In his superintendent’s report, Downes said the district has $5,000 more in grant money for school lunch than the total reported last month. An artist in residence will be in the district for the last two weeks in March. Artist Lawrence Diggs of Rosalyn will work with kids to create greeting cards.
Read Across America at Milbank Elementary included a video of Governor Noem reading to elementary students. Valley Queen donated M&M’s and cheese sticks for the event and new books for the library. Whimsy on Main also made donations for the celebration.
Spring Sports “We had a pretty successful end to our winter seasons, reported Scoular, who also serves as athletic director for the district. He said, “We are gearing up for the spring sports. Track, with about 70 members, started today and their first meet will be on April 14. Tennis has 24 high school and 10 middle school students and softball with just over 20 participants has been doing open gym. Golf with around 10 to date will start in the next few weeks.”
Marie Ivers, special services director, reported the state basketball meet for Special Olympics is scheduled for March 24 and 25 in Sioux Falls. Ivers also reminded the group of Title Night on Thursday, March 30.
The next meeting of the Milbank Board of Education will be held on April 10 at 7:00 pm.