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BEA schools prepare for September

The BEA?School Board adapts to changes in COVID-19 restrictions

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Jul 18, 2021

Community Workforce Coordinator Emily Davis gave BEA School Board members an update on last year’s projects.

“It is definitely different planning for the upcoming school year this year than it was last year,” Blue Earth Area superintendent Mandy Fletcher told members of the BEA School Board at their meeting on Monday, July 12. “We do not have to plan for three different learning scenarios this year like we had to last year and we do not have to prepare for social distancing.”

Fletcher also addressed the question of whether or not masks will be required to be worn in school.

“At this point, BEA has no requirements for any individuals to wear masks,” she said. “We are waiting to hear from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to see what they say. They will communicate with the Minnesota Department of Education when they make a decision.”

The MDH normally follows the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, according to Fletcher.

“The CDC is recommending K-12 students wear masks inside if they are not vaccinated,” she commented. “Masks are not recommended for outdoor activities.”

Fletcher also reviewed changes which are now in effect because the state is no longer operating under the governor’s emergency powers.

“The School Board is now required to meet in person,” she shared.

Fletcher also provided board members with a legislative update.

“The legislature increased the school spending formula by 2.45 percent this year and by two percent for the following year,” she noted. “I want to thank our local elected officials, Senator Rosen and Representative Olson for their efforts in seeing this bill through.”

Community Workforce coordinator Emily Davis was at the meeting to give a report on the group’s activities during the last school year.

“One of the more popular things we did was have the Big Ideas Trailer come to BEA,” Davis explained. “The trailer allowed students to experience first hand different trade careers through augmented reality simulation. Those simulations included welding, auto painting and heavy equipment operation.”

Davis shared the Big Ideas Trailer was already booked for next year.

“I believe we really sparked some interest in trades careers,” Davis stated.

Vice chairperson Sara Hauskins, who conducted the meeting in chairperson Susie Rosenau’s absence, led the board through a series of action items.

The board approved the hiring of Elta Sparks as an elementary teacher, Jennifer Kafka as an ESL/middle school communications teacher and Gianni Alm as a Title I teacher.

They also approved the contracts of Al Gieser, Buildings and Grounds supervisor; Rob Norman, Activities director; LeAnne Scholl, Transportation director; Dexter Prechel, bus mechanic.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the BEA School District and the city of Blue Earth was passed. It allows access to school property by the city for the purpose of conducting a feasibility study on constructing new tennis courts on school property.

“The study will look at putting eight courts on school property,” Fletcher explained. “The BEA School District and the city of Blue Earth will each pay 50 percent of the costs and expenses incurred by the city for the feasibility study.”

The board also:

• Approved membership in the Minnesota School Board Association for the 2021-22 school year.

• Accepted fuel bids from Kwik Trip for gasoline and diesel fuel. The net cost per gallon for gas is $2.735 per gallon. The net cost for diesel is $2.755 per gallon.

• Set the activity and meal rates for 2021-22.

• Approved board member reimbursement rates at $600 annually for the chair and clerk, $50 per meeting for up to one half day meetings and $150 per full-day meeting.