ISD 200 School Board gives beginning of the year updates at September Meeting

Posted 9/29/21

Superintendent reports on ‘return to normalcy’ at Hastings schools By Theodore Tollefson The Independent School District 200 School Board met for its monthly meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 22 …

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ISD 200 School Board gives beginning of the year updates at September Meeting


Superintendent reports on ‘return to normalcy’ at Hastings schools

By Theodore Tollefson

The Independent School District 200 School Board met for its monthly meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 22 passing multiple agenda items.

The board meeting opened with approval of the minutes from the Aug. 25 meeting and special meeting on Sept. 8, which took place in closed session. The minutes do not disclose what was discussed during the closed session meeting on Sept. 8, but there was public notice given by the board prior to the meeting to ensure the legality of a closed session.

For the start of last Wednesday night’s meeting, visitors were recognized both inperson and virtually. However, there was no public comment in the meeting as it had not been put into the agenda. There was a public listening session held by the board prior to the meeting, where two community members spoke with board chair Kelsey Waits and board member Becky Beissel.

The board recognized ISD 200 Director of Business Jennifer Seubert for her work on school finances, planning regarding the normal academic schedule and COVID19 planning.

“A lot of the reasons that we have been in a different place than other districts throughout COVID is because of her. And I am not sure just how many people understand how many of our daytoday things Jen Seubert does for our school district and ensures that everything gets taken care of,” said Hastings Public Schools Superintendent Robert Mc-Dowell.

Following the recognition of Seubert, the board moved onto discussion items up for second reading. The board heard updates on policy items Policy 102 Equal Education Opportunity, Policy 213 School Board Committees, Policy 413 Harassment and Violence, Policy 521 Student Disability Nondiscrimination, Policy 522 Student Sex NonDiscrimination, and Policy 522A Title IX Notification. All these were moved into action items by the board and later approved.

McDowell gave his report starting with a debrief on COVID19 cases within the county, district, the city of Hastings, and case numbers within each district building. As McDowell reported, there are currently nine cases that have been reported at Hastings High School, eight of which are students and one staff member. At Hastings Middle School, there are currently ten cases, nine from students and one staff member. For the elementary school there are seven cases currently from students and two from staff.

As a result of these current COVID19 cases, 37 students in Hastings Public Schools are currently quarantined, 15 from the middle school and 22 from the high school. McDowell also shared that the city of Hastings population currently sits at a vaccination rate of 58 percent.

McDowell said the start of the school year is still focusing on a return to normalcy despite the current number of COVID19 cases and students quarantining in the district. “It’s kind of amazing to watch all of the teachers back in action really digging into what we do, what we need to know in order to best serve our students,” said McDowell.

The district office will temporarily move to Hastings Middle School due to office renovations for the next month. The renovations are scheduled to be completed by the end of October. For those who will be voting early absentee ballots for the 2021 Hastings Public Schools School Board Election, ballots can be dropped off at the Middle School’s main office with Becky GarciaCarrasco, the executive assistant to Superintendent McDowell.

Following McDowell’s report, board clerk Stephanie Malm asked McDowell, “How is the atmosphere in the buildings since school started?”

McDowell said his interpretation of the atmosphere is seeing a return to normal as kids are excited to be back within their classrooms on a regular basis. McDowell also said the teachers are excited to be back in school, but are feeling the normal tiredness of a return to the school year.

“It seems to be as good as it can be right now as we move through this. I’m pleasantly surprised. I feel like we’re in a better spot than some districts and we’re on par with other districts and I think our staff continues to show up and give it all they’ve got every day,” said McDowell.

“As a mom of a fifth grader and a third grader, the efforts are definitely showing,” said Malm. “My kids come home with smiles every day. My daughter is complaining about school which is a great sign. I have her back! So thank you to the staff, to the teachers and everything that they do so we can hopefully see these kids in class every day.”

The board then approved the consent agenda, which included the monthly personnel report. This month’s personnel report contained a total of five resignations and two terminations of employment. A total of 20 new hires, eight at the elementary schools, three at the middle school, six at the high school and three districtwide, were approved. Six district employees were granted leave starting in September and ranging to end at different periods of time.

The board also okayed change orders with Bituminous Roadways Inc. for high school construction updates and approved monthly bills, the updated administrator and superintendent contracts.

Other approvas

•The proposal for maximum levy limitations and certification of the 2021 payable 2022 levies are approved. The budget and levy will be discussed at the Dec. 8 regular board meeting. The public is welcome and will be allowed to speak. The final levy will be adopted Dec. 8.

•Facility rental rates This sets the purposes in which a district facility can be used by the public, the rates they pay for the facility, and additional rules and regulations.

•School Readiness Fund transfer The intention by the board to fully approve a transfer from the district's General Fund to the School Readiness Fund in the amount of $125,000.

•Resolution appointing election judges People who had signed up to be an election judge for the upcoming school board election have had their positions approved. There will be five polling places Nov. 2: Hope Lutheran Church, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, United Methodist Church, St. Phillips Lutheran Church, and St. John’s Lutheran Church.