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If time spent discussing an issue indicates its importance, use of W-SR facilities tops the list of important issues at the Oct. 12 meeting of the W-SR School Board.

Following 30 minutes of discussion, the Board approved use of the high school and middle school facilities for youth basketball and wrestling tournaments with the understanding that COVID-19 mitigation proposals presented are a minimum standard, with local administrators able to tighten or modify standards as conditions require.

“Nobody knows yet how COVID spreads at wrestling tournaments. We might find out that it’s a super-spreader event,” said High School Principal David Fox.

Board President Kelly Flege suggested that the public be made very aware of new tournament standards. Wrestling tournament standards include increased sanitation, temperature-taking, masks-wearing by fans, coaches, and athletes (when not competing) as well as mask-wearing enforcement. Parents will not be allowed in the practice room.

Basketball tournament standards include those listed, with no handshakes and spectators limited to one family member per participant.

Mandatory mask usage continues for W-SR students and staff, although gaiters and handkerchiefs, believed to be less effective in stopping the spread of COVID, are not acceptable. Asked if a this presents a hardship for students who use gaiters or handkerchiefs, Educational Services Director Bridgette Wagoner reminded Board members that masks are provided at no cost to all students.

Eight weeks of classes have been completed during this most unusual school year.

Superintendent Ed Klamfoth provides a weekly COVID update.

“We appreciate greatly the ongoing support for, and adherence to, the school district’s mitigation efforts. We feel strongly that those have been key in helping keep the number of infected individuals low, so thank you.

“As has been the case for nearly every week that we have been in school, we were made aware of at least one, but not more than five positive COVID cases amongst our students and staff this past week,” wrote Klamfoth on Friday, Oct. 9.

If money spent is another indicator of Board attention, recouping economic losses from school closing last March tops that list, with the Board approving an application for $643,339 in modified allowable growth for Special Education costs.

While special education typically costs the district more money than State funds provide, last year’s deficit was about $100,000 more than usual.

“We were unable to claim Medicaid reimbursements for the last ten weeks of the school year. Medicaid helps offset special education costs,” Klamfoth explained.

Working through other educational issues during this unusual school year, the Board set yearly goals and drilled down to make their Equity Goal more measurable. (See below) A pay increase for bus drivers taking students to activities was approved, and a unique format to present the high school play W-SR was discussed. The play will be rehearsed, performed, and filmed in “bits and pieces” with small groups of students together at one time. The small group work will be combined and streamed for audience viewing.

Approval was granted to science teacher Renee Borglum to begin planning for the June 2021 Wilderness Studies trip to Colorado. The trip was cancelled last year due to COVID-19.

This board meeting was held in person with no members of the public in attendance. Remote meeting access was discussed at the September board meeting. This reporter attended via Zoom and has been informed that technology has been purchased, but not yet installed to facilitate future remote access for the public.

2020-2021 Board Goals:

Facilities

Take into full consideration, and address as able, the recommendations scheduled to be presented to the board by the Facility Task Force.

Finance

Achieve and maintain an unspent authorized budget ratio between 17%-20%.

Academic

In this COVID-19 environment, support staff and administration in the delivery of education that most likely results in a successful academic year for all.

Board Learning

To become a more effective, knowledgeable board, we will schedule regular board work sessions and attend, to the greatest extent possible, IASB (and other) training/learning opportunities.

Equity

Participate in IASB’s “Leading for Equity: A Practical Guide for Boards in Your Equity Journey”

Sportsmanship

Encourage and support an improvement in sportsmanship (across the district as measured by the annual NEIC survey).