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School board marks close of trying year

COVID regs lifting in time for normal graduation ceremonies

David Colburn
Posted 5/26/21

VIRGINA- The tone at Tuesday’s meeting of the ISD 2142 school board in Virginia was a mixture of relief, perseverance, and celebration as members worked through an agenda with items to close …

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School board marks close of trying year

COVID regs lifting in time for normal graduation ceremonies

Posted

VIRGINA- The tone at Tuesday’s meeting of the ISD 2142 school board in Virginia was a mixture of relief, perseverance, and celebration as members worked through an agenda with items to close out a COVID-scarred academic year and look ahead to the next.
“We’re almost to the end of the school year and we’ve been in-person since the winter break, and it’s just awesome,” Superintendent Reggie Engebritson said. “I’m giddy. Is somebody putting that in the minutes? I think we’ve done a great job of staying the course and staying in school.”
Engebritson noted that the schools continue to operate under the Safe Learning Plan, which includes wearing masks, through the end of the academic year next week.
With the end of the state’s COVID-19 facility capacity restrictions on May 28, the June 4 graduation ceremonies at the district’s high schools will be open to the public, Engebritson said.
“Social distancing will not be required at graduations, no masks, and so graduations should look pretty much like they used to,” she said.
Board chair Dan Manick noted that there are some people who still have the understanding that graduation will be limited to four family members for each student, which was the plan before Gov. Tim Walz unveiled his plan to end COVID restrictions.
“It’s confusing because it’s not May 28 yet and the rules are still in effect for anything before May 28,” Engebritson said.
Kim Jirik reviewed the contents of a report about the district’s experience this year with Q-Comp, a state-sponsored quality improvement initiative for teaching involving such things as learning communities and peer mentorships. Jirik noted that alterations dictated in learning methodologies, including distance learning, made this year’s process different from any other.
“We had a lot of kids that were in and out for whatever reason, we had some network distance learning out here, we had an AB learning schedule, so it wasn’t full time learning,” Jirik said. “There were a lot of things that interfered with education in general this year.”
Still, Jirik dubbed the initiative a success this year.
“Overall, it’s been a very good year,” she said. “There’s been more collaboration this year. There are some people who are better with technology, and some people are better with this or that. They came together, they talked, they helped each other out.”
In other business, the board:
• Approved the annual financial audit reviewed at a prior working meeting.
• Approved an adjustment in the pay-for-performance program that will provide stipends for qualified employees who have reached the top of their salary range and are ineligible for salary increases. The board also designated $52,000 to be used to fund the pay-for-performance system to cover all eligible employees.
• Approved an agreement with Chisholm School District for a cooperative girls swimming team.
• Accepted renewal of the district’s property, auto, and workers compensation insurance as presented by Dwight Swanstrom Company/Spirit Valley Agency of Duluth. An analysis of the workers compensation rate showed a $9,000 increase for 2021 over 2020, but the $109,616 rate was still $2,000 less than in 2019. The property insurance premium for 2021 was $137,269, a net increase of $11,643.
• Hired Alli Sandberg and Jessica Gillson as full-time special education teachers at Tower-Soudan School.
• Heard that 132 staff have enrolled in a one-year personal data protection program following a data breach of the district’s employee data.
• Hired Thomas Hed as a full-time, long-term substitute custodian at North Woods.
• Hired Melissa Rabas as a part-time van driver at Tower-Soudan.
• Accepted resignations from preschool teacher assistant Olivia Suihkonen and part-time custodian Beth Anderson at Tower-Soudan and health office assistant Wendy Pierce at North Woods.

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