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Enrollment up a little at BEA District

By Staff | Oct 11, 2020

“Enrollment at Blue Earth Area Schools showed a slight increase from 1,031 students on Oct. 1, of last year, to 1,037 on Oct. 1 of this year,” BEA superintendent Mandy Fletcher told board members at their regular October meeting last Wednesday. “The free and reduced lunch numbers were very similar also with 42.53 percent of the students this year versus 42.97 percent last year utilizing this program.”

Fletcher also gave an update on the Online Academy at BEA.

“This is new to the district this year and is for those students choosing full-time distance learning,” she said. “We have 37 full-time distance learners in the elementary school, seven in the middle school and 35 in the high school for a total of 79 students. These numbers do not include students who may have to quarantine for a time period because of COVID-19.”

In her report on the BEA School Foundation, Fletcher shared Buc$ Nite Out, which has been a regular November occurrence for many years, will not happen this year.

“We hope to hold the fundraiser at a later date, maybe in the spring or the summer,” Fletcher noted. “We are also exploring other ideas including making it a more family friendly event. The idea of an online raffle has also been discussed. We will talk about these options more at our December meeting.”

Fletcher also gave an update on the CARES Act funding the school has received.

“We used the money from the GEER fund, about $17,000 to update our technology,” Fletcher explained. “The approximately $193,000 from the ESSER fund does not need to be spent until 2022. We have decided to save the largest chunk of this fund for unseen expenses.”

Next, she spoke about the two different Coronavirus Relief Funds.

“The district received $278,000 directly and BEA and United South Central each received $178,000 from the county,” Fletcher explained. “These funds come with strict parameters. Budgets needed to be submitted and approved by Oct. 1, which we did. And the items had to be ordered and received by Dec. 30 of this year.

“One big concern is many items schools are ordering are on back order,” Fletcher said. “We directed all of the money we received from the county into technology to assist in hybrid and distance learning and we are confident all items ordered will be here by Dec. 10.”

Fletcher then told the board how the district allotment of $278,000 was being used.

“Some of it was used for cleaning supplies and other items to help facilitate better sanitation in the school. We also purchased picnic tables so students could be outside for some of their classes,” Fletcher noted. “Then the finance committee decided if the district had to go to full hybrid learning that transportation would be an issue because of the district’s aging fleet of buses. After much thought and discussion we decided to purchase two new 2021 buses from Hoglund which are sitting on a lot in Iowa and are ready to go.”

During discussion it was pointed out the purchase of these buses does not negate the need to purchase a new bus annually for the next few years.

“We currently have three buses out of commission so we need to continue to update our fleet,” Fletcher added.

During his principal’s report, Dave Dressler reported 65 students had taken the ACT test on Tuesday, Oct. 6.

“This was a make-up test from last spring,” Dressler remarked. “The majority of the students taking the test were seniors.”

He also reported the Lions Club made a donation of dictionaries for the third grade students and Compeer Financial has provided water bottles for all of the students in both buildings.

The board also:

Approved the 2020-2021 World’s Best Work Force report.

Voted to approve Fletcher as the District Identified Official with Authority.

Passed a motion approving the revised 2020-2021 school calendar.

Approved the hiring of Kelli Steier as a paraprofessional.