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Citizens concerned about staff cuts at BEA

By Staff | Mar 15, 2020

Orchestra director Peter Koenig addresses the Blue Earth Area School Board about Music In Our School’s Month.

The Blue Earth Area School Board held their monthly meeting on Monday, March 9.

During the public comment part of the meeting, Nicole Allard, an elementary special education teacher, voiced her concern over the possible cutting of positions which may occur during the board’s budget talks.

She stated she was especially concerned for two particular people who do so much to help students with social emotional needs.

“Kelly Bleess, a K-5 social worker, and K-7 assistant principal Conan Shaffer have had such a positive influence on the elementary kids struggling with social and emotional needs,” Allard stated.

After the public comment period was closed, the board moved on to discuss goals they would like to achieve for the 2021-22 school year.

Many goals were discussed before the board narrowed their list down to three.

Dealing with the district’s deficit spending was the top priority. The board concluded they would like to eliminate deficit spending by the 2021-22 school year.

Improving communication with the communities in the district was next on the list of goals. It is the desire of the board to have a more united district.

Professional development and training for board members was the final goal listed by the board.

The board also stated passing an operating levy would be a high priority.

Superintendent Mandy Fletcher had three items to talk about during her report.

She said the main topic at the state legislature in the coronavirus.

“We receive new information on a daily basis from the Minnesota Department of Health, the Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control,” Fletcher stated.

The legislature is also considering measures to take should schools have to temporarily close for quarantine purposes.

“The legislature is considering expanding the number of flex-learning days should schools have to close because of coronavirus,” she said.

Next, Fletcher brought up the possibility of the board holding another work session to discuss budget issues.

“We need to decide how much we want to cut and where do we want to cut,” board member Kyle Zierke said. “So I think it would be a good idea to keep working on the budget.”

After further discussion, a work session was scheduled for March 19, at 6 p.m.

The last item Fletcher addressed was the school calendar of 2020-21.

“We had to make some changes so it is not quite ready for approval,” Fletcher explained.

During the principal reports, K-7 principal Dave Dressler told the board the Minnesota Vikings had donated a flag football set to the school.

“It was part of their community outreach program,” Dressler commented.

Dressler also reported the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) had begun the first week of March.

“Kindergarten round-up will be held on March 27,” Shaffer reported. “We had 86 kids compete in the science fair and 13 of the students will be moving on to participate in the region competition.”

Orchestra teacher Peter Koenig was also at the meeting to tell the board about Music in Our Schools month, which is promoted by the National Association for Music Education.

“This March marks the 35th year we have celebrated Music in Our Schools and this year’s theme is Music Connects Us,” Koening said. “Music has many benefits. Recent studies have shown music helps students with social/emotional learning issues.”

Moving on to personnel matters, the board approved the retirement of Nancy Steinke as a media paraprofessional.