School principals pleased with shift from distance learning to classroom

By Tim Huether

All three school principals reported more and more students are moving from distance learning to the classroom and all three said it has been a good thing. At the regular Bennett County School District board meeting Monday night, Superintendent Stacy Halverson reported the district had 50 students on distance learning earlier in the year and that number has dropped to 13.

Halverson said the enrollment has held steady  but the attendance is slightly down, around 90 percent, but added with the COVID-19 issue, it’s probably not too bad.

Parent Teachers Conferences will be Feb. 4, with that being held similar to the first semester where parents or guardians will have options on how to communicate with the teachers. 

Middle School principal Jon Pierson said students are doing well academically at the Middle School with 23 getting all A’s, 31 on the A Honor Roll and 12 on the B Honor Roll. He said enrollment is at 100 with only three students participating through distance learning. 

Pierson said the staff has been able to design activities and curriculum that adheres to the school’s protocols, but lets the students collaborate and problem solve, allowing them to work together.

With his athletic director’s hat on, Pierson said it was a great week for Warrior athletics with the girls basketball team picking up an overtime win in Lead, the wrestling team taking second in the Bennett County Invitational with three individual champions, and the boys basketball team taking home the Consolation Championship at the Jones County Invitational basketball tournament. 

The One Act Play will travel to Winner for the region competition next Tuesday.

There are three basketball double headers this week.

At the high school, Principal Nick Redden said they have gained a few students this semester and the attendance is at 145, with most students on distance learning returning to school.

Redden said the high school lunch program has been going great averaging from 30 to 40 each day, up a little from last semester.

Martin Grade School principal Amie Kuxhaus said she has been working with Belinda Ready on the SEL Grant carryover. They have been working on teacher resources, student resources, teacher books study and parent resources.

The annual Spelling Bee is set for Feb. 4, at 8:15 a.m. The students have taken the written test and the top 10 qualifiers will be given their study sheets Wednesday.

Notes will be going home regarding parent/teacher conferences Wednesday for parents to choose how they would like to be notified of their child’s progress.

Federal Programs Director Belinda Ready said the Comprehensive Needs Assessment is going real well. They are starting to plan professional development for next year. Family Engagement will have to be done virtually again and they have finished the Library Policy Manual.

Co-Business Manager Karen Coyle said for anyone wanting to run for school board, petitions may be picked up Jan. 29 for the two openings; the ones occupied by Josh Fanning and Scott Huber. 

Jed Liedtke of Puetz Construction updated the board on the new building progress, saying the inside part of the project is going real well and many other areas are moving along well. He said the area D (fitness center) steel is complete and they will now put on plywood and get it enclosed. One half of the gym floor is ready to be poured. He said they will do that in two halves and said that has to be perfect. He said they use a laser screen that levels that as it is poured.

In other action, the board moved to surplus the following: 

-Desktop Mac, not repairable

-1987 Dodge 150 Power Ram 4x4, 14,911 miles (what the odometer shows)

The board reviewed the Back to School Plan and Halverson said she saw no need to change anything since it was last updated in December. The board approved the plan as it is with a reminder that it states they strongly encourage the wearing of masks, but it was not mandatory.

The board moved to recognize the Bennett County Administrators Bargaining Group as the negotiating unit for the 2021-2022 school year.

The board moved to recognize the Bennett County Education Association as the negotiating unit for the 2021-2022 school year.

The board moved to recognize the Bennett County Classified Education Association as the negotiating unit for the 2021-2022 school year. 

The board moved to approve the polling places for the board election on April 13, 2021; Combination of precincts, Martin Rural 26, Martin Rural 27 and City of Martin into (1) precinct to vote at the Library Community Room; Vetal and Tuthill precinct combine into (1) precinct to vote at the Vetal Firehall; and the Allen Precinct to vote at the CAP office. 

The board moved to approve the hourly wage of $15.00 plus mileage for the election judges and clerks for the school board election and $20.00 plus mileage for attendance at the election board. 

The board moved to accept the retirement of Rosemary Buchmann, Art and Spanish Instructor, effective at the end of the 2020-2021 school year, after 31 years of dedication to the district. 

The board moved to transfer funds of $2,300,000 from FIT to Fund 27.

The board moved to transfer funds from Fund 27 to the following:

-General Fund, $100,000

-Capital Outlay, $200,000

-BCHS Gym/Fitness, $2,000,000 

The board moved to approve the hire of Tee Allen, asst. wrestling coach. Tee was a volunteer and recently completed necessary paperwork to be hired.

Barry Bettelyoun approached the board with a request the board have the teachers and students wear masks. Bettelyoun said this is another tool they can use to help save someone’s life. Bettelyoun made the same request at the December board meeting.

Board Chairman Mike Olson informed Bettelyoun the board’s plan that they just approved, strongly encourages wearing masks but they are not required. Bettelyoun responded that he would like to be on the agenda for the next meeting.

The board entered into executive session and after coming back out, moved to extend the superintendent’s  contract through the 2022-2023 school year.

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