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Enrollment numbers up at BEA

Board also learns there are no COVID-19 cases at the schools

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Feb 14, 2021

Blue Earth Area superintendent Mandy Fletcher presents School Board member Sara Hauskins with a certificate of appreciation in honor of Minnesota School Board Recognition Week which is observed the week of Feb. 22. All of the board members received their certificates at their meeting on Monday, Feb. 8.

“While enrollment in most school districts across the state has fallen, Blue Earth Area is one of the few districts in the state to see an increase in its numbers,” superintendent Mandy Fletcher told the School Board at their regular monthly meeting held on Monday, Feb. 8.

The topic came up as part of her superintendent’s report.

“Public education districts in the state are concerned about enrollment in light of COVID-19,” Fletcher explained. “With school funding tied to enrollment, the legislature is considering a “hold harmless” approach to the loss of students. Districts would be able to use enrollment numbers from either last year or this year, whichever is greater, when determining their school funding.”

Fletcher reported the current enrollment is 1,031 compared to 1,021 a year ago.

“I can also report there are currently no active COVID cases in the school in either the students or the staff. That is something to be celebrated,” Fletcher commented. “The students in grades K-7 have been in-person learning and we will bring one more grade back to school each week. The eighth graders came back today. Next week the ninth graders will resume in-person learning. The last grade to come back will be the seniors on March 8.”

Fletcher also took time to announce the week of Feb. 22 was School Board Recognition Week. She presented a certificate to each board member in honor of their service to the district.

Fletcher also reported the Minnesota School Board Association held their leadership conference virtually this year.

“One of the sessions I attended was titled Strategic Planning During Troubling Times,” Fletcher said. “It served to remind me it is probably time for BEA to think about updating our strategic plan.”

In other reports, K-7 assistant principal Conan Shaffer told the board the ACT tests would be held later than normal this year.

“We expect the test date will be somewhere between April 20 and April 22,” Shaffer said.

Principal Dave Dressler gave thanks to school nurse Ann Crofton for all of the work she has done regarding COVID-19 and for making the staff testing run smoothly.

“The kids are doing a great job with the masks in school,” he said. “I am very impressed.”

He also had some news regarding the annual sixth grade trek.

“It probably will not be a normal trek, if we are able to have one at all,” Dressler said. “Many of the places we would normally go are unable to handle large groups of people with the COVID restrictions which are in place.”

During committee reports, board member Stacy Beyer gave an update on the BEA Foundation Board.

“Our donations are down which is expected since we were not able to hold our annual Buc$ Nite Out fundraiser,” Beyer reported. “Our expenses are also down so that helps.”

In other business the board also:

• Approved a staff sharing agreement with Southern Plains Cooperative for a speech/language pathologist substitute.

• Approved the legal firm of Kennedy Graven as legal representation for 2020-2021 and authorized the board chair and the superintendent to contact legal counsel.

• Accepted the resignation of Robert Ziegler from the maintenance department.

• Gave approval for the retirement of elementary teacher Terri Cue and K-7 physical education teacher Randy Wirtjes, effective at the end of the current school year.

• Granted the leave request of paraprofessional Bobbi Huston.

• Approved Kelsey Zbaracki as a long-term sub in the first grade classroom.

• Gave a “shout-out” to the BEA Math League team for their success this year and to Calvin Farrow and Lauren Bleess, who are currently ranked second and fourth, respectively, in the conference.