Blue Earth Area School Board met on March 13 to discuss various issues, including the proposal to add new tennis courts at the school. While the proposal was not on the agenda, the issue came up during the meeting when members of the boys and girls BEA tennis teams expressed their concerns about the current condition of the courts. After much discussion, the board decided to send the matter back to the joint powers committee for further negotiations. In other business, the board voted in favor of adding new staff members for the next school year on a one-year trial basis. They also approved the addition of a new chemistry/physical science teacher for next year. Additionally, there were updates from the BEA music teachers, Emily Davis, the BEA Workforce Coordinator, and technology coordinator Stacy Haase.
Blue Earth Area School Board Delays New Tennis Court Plan
The Blue Earth Area School Board did not have the proposed new tennis courts on their agenda at their meeting on March 13. However, the tennis courts issue was discussed during the meeting when members of both the boys and girls BEA tennis teams expressed their concerns about the current condition of the courts at Putnam Park.
The tennis teams wondered if all of their home matches in the near future would have to be moved to either United South Central in Wells or to Fairmont. They also showed their full support for the proposed new eight-court setup at the school, which is estimated to cost $1.2 million and has been under discussion between the city of Blue Earth and the School District for some time.
The City Council had recently agreed to pay $330,000 towards the cost of the new courts at the school, covering all the construction costs, with the School District paying them back through lease payments for their share. However, during the meeting, School Board member Ted Armon expressed his dissatisfaction with the new proposal from the city, which deviated from the initial 60/40 split of costs that had been agreed upon earlier.
The city’s new proposal was for a 27.5% cost share, which Armon considered “in poor form” and raised doubts about having trust in the proposals. Another concern was expressed about getting some decisions made in order to get the project underway as soon as possible. After more discussion, the board decided to send the entire matter back to the joint powers committee for more negotiations, although no formal motion was made.
Fletcher, the board’s spokesperson, also scheduled a meeting with city administrator Mary Kennedy to review the project further. In other business at the meeting, the board made a decision to increase some staff positions for the next school year.
The delay in the decision regarding the proposed new tennis courts is likely to cause some frustration among the members of the tennis teams who showed their support for the project. However, it seems that the School Board wants to ensure that the costs are distributed fairly and that the project is executed with due diligence.
Blue Earth Area School Board Approves Addition of Staff for Next School Year
According to the budget update given by fiscal services coordinator Alan Wilhelmi during the Blue Earth Area School Board meeting, the district is in good financial shape for most areas for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, which ends on June 30.
Superintendent Mandy Fletcher had already been working on a proposal to increase staffing in certain areas for the next school year, 2023-2024. The proposed new staff members include adding another section for second and third grades, an ELA instructor for sixth grade and one in the high school, and an assistant principal/behavior specialist.
After discussion, the board voted in favor of adding the proposed new staff members for the next year but just on a one-year trial basis. The estimated overall cost of adding the new staff for the next school year is approximately $450,000, according to Fletcher.
After the meeting, Fletcher said she felt that adding these staff positions for even one year will be very helpful in dealing with the learning loss that occurred during the pandemic.
The board also approved the addition of a new chemistry/physical science teacher for next year and voted to hire Brittany Eckhardt to fill the position.
Other updates during the meeting included an update from the BEA music teachers Peter Koenig and Paul Johnson about the overall music program, an update from Emily Davis, the BEA Workforce Coordinator, on activities for students to explore career opportunities, an update from technology coordinator Stacy Haase, and approval of the spring sports coaches list, the 2022-2023 revised budget, and donations to the BUCC-Y Backpack Program.
March is Music in Our Schools Month, and Koenig and Johnson described all the different music opportunities available to students in grades kindergarten through 12. The two music teachers reported that there are 122 students in band from grades five through 12, 77 students in orchestra in grades six through 12, and 189 students in choir from grades 6 through 12. They also gave an update on upcoming events and concerts to celebrate Music in Our Schools Month, as well as some information on why music in schools matters.
Davis reported on the various activities available to students to explore career opportunities, including field trips, industry partnerships, tours of manufacturing plants, and an Ag Day at South Central College.
Haase provided an update on a Chromebook refresher program, revamping the school website, and facts about social media.
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