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Enrollment stays steady at USC School

Board hears updates from staff, principals and superintendent

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Mar 21, 2021

The enrollment of grades K-6 at United South Central Schools is currently at 357, while the enrollment for grades 7-12 is at 321. The USC Board discussed how many students have chosen to continue to do distance learning and whether or not the state will require the schools to continue to provide distance learning.

The United South Central School Board met on Tuesday, March 16, with many topics of discussion. Following the approval of last month’s minutes, the board proceeded to the administration reports.

Elementary principal Nick Jurrens was the first to speak.

“This past month has flown by. We have stayed busy with contact tracing and lining up substitute teachers,” Jurrens said. “We are also doing the final planning for the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) tests. The window for conducting the tests has been extended by the Minnesota Department of Education. We are sending letters to those who are distance learning and encouraging them to take the MCAs. The enrollment of grades K-6 is currently at 357.”

High school principal Julie Stauber was also on hand to present the board with her report. She informed the board enrollment had risen by one student from last month and was now at 321 for grades 7-12.

“There were a larger than normal number of drops and adds during this last month,” Stauber stated.

She said plans were underway to hold prom on Saturday, May 22.

“The junior class is responsible for raising the funds for prom as well as for their graduation next year so we met to discuss their fundraising event which will be held on March 24,” Stauber said. “We also discussed Boys and Girls State with the juniors.”

The question was asked by a board member if the number of students who have chosen to distance learn has risen or stayed the same since the beginning of the year and whether school districts will be required to offer distance learning next year.

“The number of kids choosing to distance learn has not changed much since the beginning of the year,” Stauber said. “Some tried it and did not like it and others seem to be excelling at it.”

Superintendent Keith Fleming answered the second part of the question.

“It is a current topic of discussion whether the governor will require districts to offer distance learning or if the legislature will have something to say about it,” Fleming commented. “Overall, many districts are interested in offering the distance learning option because of the fear they will lose students if they do not offer it. I think it is pretty clear if we are required to offer distance learning we will need to do something different than the synchronous learning we did this year.”

Fleming then moved right into his report.

“The state legislature is in session and I have been attending two meetings on a weekly basis, one which is sponsored by the Minnesota School Board Association. Many of the topics being talked about include what is going to be done with distance learning, credit recovery and whether there will be funding for any summer programs,” Fleming told board members. “Federal relief funds are a hot topic and we are waiting to see if the legislature is going to fully fund increases to our basic formula or if they are going to say you have the federal funds and you are just going to have to make do. There is some good news. The revenue forecast is more positive than the original budget. The House and Senate will receive their final budget numbers next week so we will see what happens.”

In other business:

• The board approved the 2021-22 academic calendar.

• The board reviewed the current 2020-21 General Fund budget and the preliminary 2021-22 General Fund budget.

• Staffing recommendations for the 2021-22 school year, based on enrollment projections, were approved.

• A motion to purchase a 77-passenger bus passed.

• The board voted to approve the purchase of a new K-6 and eighth grade math curriculum.

• The retirement of Thomas Neubauer, a bus driver and maintenance man, was approved retroactive to Feb. 16, 2021.

• The resignation of paraprofessional Tiffany Parks was accepted, retroactive to Feb. 23, 2021.