School Board tends to year-end business, hears from public

By Tim Huether

The Bennett County School District Board took care of year end business at the June 26 regular meeting.

Jamie Gropper addressed the board with concerns over student conduct and the behavioral matrix in place by the school. Gropper said she was one of the parents who started the newly formed Parent Teachers Organization and she has three boys enrolled in the school district.

“The main three reasons I started voicing my concerns at the Bennett County PTO were behavior concerns I had at the elementary, parents talking about transferring their kids to another school and teachers leaving the elementary or wanting to resign.”

She said she attended the data retreat and her concern still is that if we’re having behaviors in the classrooms, and it’s starting to overshadow and it’s starting to disrupt the learning of the other students in the room, its taking away from the kids who want to be there and its a no win for anyone and it’s frustrating for the teachers who have to constantly deal with the same things. My hope it to bring this up because you are dealing with the new handbooks and looking over the behavior matrix. That is something I feel really strong about that needs to be revised because I think it’s vague and needs to be more spelled out.” 

“We owe it to our kids  to raise the bar so they can meet that level and go up. We have kids acting out and have issues and we owe it to the kids that want to learn.”

Board president Mike Olson told Gropper that if there are concerns in the handbook on discipline matrix, let the board know as they are going over it next month. He said they will not necessarily go with their ideas, but can look it over.

“I know you can’t have zero tolerance, but there needs to be a line drawn somewhere,” said Gropper.

This reporter addressed the board about the school’s Opt Out and the financial status of the school. I informed the board the opt out is in it’s fifth year, yet very little has been discussed about it. I said the public is asking questions and would like to know what the board is planning on the opt out, such as leaving it run through the seven years or possibly not got all seven years. I asked the board to provide at a later date the number of new jobs and what the new jobs were that were created as a result of the opt out and superintendent Stacy Halverson said she would get that report to me.

I said the business community is being taxed to the tune of an additional $30,000 per year and asked that they look at the possibility of not using the opt out at for the next year.

I said the public wants to know what kind of financial shape the district is in and the board said it was in good shape. I requested financial information such as cash on hand, balance, etc. and co-business manager Jolene Robinson said she could get that to me right away.

I told the board it would be good to keep the public informed on what is going on with the opt out. 

The board and administration was fully cooperative, but as this is not a board agenda item, no action could be taken.

In the board reports, Superintendent Halverson said the district still has three elementary teacher openings; a kindergarten, transitional kindergarten and special education teacher. There are three para-professional openings, one at each building. There is openings for a junior high football coach, junior  high boys basketball coach junior high girls basketball coach and Little Warriors volleyball coach.

Buildings and grounds project include Martin Grade School air conditioning, the shop building and the Activity Center cement project.

Principal Belinda Ready updated the board on the DATA Retreat on May 24-25 and June 1 and Coding on June 2. She said they are reviewing the current PD Plan to start next year’s schedules. There will be a Parent Involvement meeting in July with the date to be announced.

Principal Nick Redden said the head coaching positions have been filled. He said the Bennett County athletes competed hard at the state track and field meet and did an outstanding job, making the year end on a great note. He said the energy continues into the summer with kids participating this summer through open gym and other ways. There is open gym five nights a week and open fields. There will be no open gym July 1-7. The recent basketball clinics were very well attended with 60 participants and 45 participants respectfully. He said the students were pushed hard and responded well.

The board reviewed propane and fuel bids, awarding the propane bid of $.79 per tanker and $.93 per small truck to Midwest Cooperative of Pierre. The bid for gas and diesel fuel went to KJ’s Pit Stop, the lone bidder, with the bid of pump price per gallon less federal taxes on both lead free gasoline and #2 diesel fuel.

In other board action, contracts were accepted for the following: Abbie Alexander, Elementary PE Instructor and assistant girls basketball coach; Tatitha Tetrault, Elementary Instructor; Anthony Muilenburg, head girls basketball coach; Nicki Josefczyk, para-professional; Joni Sterkel, food service clerk, library; Tina Sigman, assistant volleyball coach; Tami Toczek, assistant food service manager; Amy O’Neill, head volleyball coach; Cindy Knecht, Jr. High volleyball coach.

The board moved to accept the resignation of Maria Hopkins, elementary instructor. Her apparent reason for resigning was that she could not find housing in Martin.

The board moved to surplus items from the kitchen that are no longer in use and a chain hoist, iron rack and overhead 9x11 door panel from the shop area.

The board moved to accept a contract from the Three Rivers Cooperative for a Speech Therapist for the 2017-18 school year in the amount of $31,846.

The board moved to adopt and renew the Associated School Board’s Worker’s Compensation Fund for the 2017-18 school year.

The board moved to adopt and renew the Associated School Boards Property and Liability Fund Participation Agreement for the 2017-18 school year.

The board moved to approve meal charging and unpaid balances standard practices of the Bennett County School District, effective July 1, 2017, adding in that no child will be denied a meal.

The board approved updates to bring the following board policies in compliances due to federal and state laws:

GCDB - Employee Criminal Background Check; EF-Food Services Management; AC-Nondiscrimination; AH-Conflict of Interest Disclosure and authorization; AH-E(1) - Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form; AH-E(2) - School Board action on Conflict of Interest Disclosure of a Direct Benefit

The board approved appointing Mike Olson as the Three Rivers Cooperative representative and Kevin Hodson as alternate for the 2017-18 school year.

The board accepted a physical therapy services contract with Bennett County Hospital and Nursing Home for the 2017-18 school year.

The board approved moving the July meeting from July 17 to July 24.

502 Second Avenue, Martin, SD 57551 • 605-685-6866 •