Chatfield School District voters to choose board member, decide referendum Nov. 5

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS Chatfield principals Randy Paulson, left, and Shane McBroom give their reports during the Oct. 2 School Board meeting.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Chatfield’s School Board held its final regular meeting this past Wednesday, Oct. 2, before the Nov. 5 School Board election and operating referendum which will decide who’s taking the open seat on the board and how much residents of the district are willing to contribute to support the district’s operation. 

The seat currently held by F. Mike Tuohy and vacated by Jerry Chase approximately one year ago is being contended for by two candidates – Dorothy Billmeier and Rick Lowrey. Superintendent Ed Harris reported that information on the operating referendum will soon be posted on the district’s website, including a general outline of how much the district hopes to increase its per pupil operating amount and what the property tax impact will be if the referendum is passed by voters. 

“A special edition of the Gopher Gazette is being printed right now, and it will recap why we need this and where the budget is,” he said. “The official notice of the election, with a sample ballot, will be released on Oct. 6, and there will be two public information meetings – one on Oct. 16 and another one a week later, on Oct. 23 at 6 in the evening right here in the Forum room.  As a note, our levy has remained virtually unchanged since last year.” 

Harris cited that his administrative goals for the coming months include working toward the update of the teacher evaluation process and scheduling employee evaluations. 

He also shared that the district has retained the services of Benike Construction and is working on the redesign of “unhandy and unsafe traffic patterns” in the high school driveways and parking lots, that a Safe Routes to School grant has spurred the district to examine how students travel to school and what might happen if safer routes were to be made. 

“The city approached us late last school year to evaluate the routes kids take to school, to make an application to MnDOT (Minnesota Department of Transportation)…we can do almost anything to create a better situation for kids to get to school,” he said.

High school principal Randy Paulson spoke about Chatfield Public Schools’ collaboration with Southeast Technical College to offer college credits in trade classes. As a result of that partnership, students are able to obtain both high school and college credit while gaining construction, welding, automotive or woodworking skills that they can use to gain employment in those various fields.  Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) instructor Tim Willette is part of the Southeast Tech staff as well as a Chatfield teacher, co-working with the college staff to provide the concurrent high school and college education. 

Paulson also congratulated the students chosen for the 2019 Homecoming court and thanked Student Senate co-advisors Michele Thompson and Marcia Schindler for their work in helping the students plan homecoming activities – such as a powderpuff football game that was rained out Wednesday but substituted with an indoor dodgeball game in the gym. He wrapped up his report with congratulations to the fall sports teams as they started their respective seasons. 

Chatfield Elementary School principal Shane McBroom outlined events at the school on the hill, telling about homecoming activities happening there – including dress-up days that impressed the principal through the students’ creativity, about how the staff there is finishing its goal-planning process, and again, saying that the school year is off to a great start.       

The board addressed one new business item on the agenda – the acceptance of the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) Foundation resolution that makes way for low-income students who would like to participate in school organizations and activities to apply for scholarships to pay their activity fees.  The board acknowledged with a vote that the MSHSL Foundation’s mission, made possible through the state allowing MSHSL to keep taxes collected on admission stubs, is worthy because it promotes inclusive participation of students who may receive free and reduced lunches, a measurement often used to determine eligibility for such scholarships. 

Personnel matters included the hiring of Michele Thompson and Marcia Schindler as Student Senate co-advisors and Zach Slowiak as Student Service Club advisor, and accepting the resignations of Jay Harstad as Math Wizards advisor and Colleen Bradt as preschool aide.  A job posting has been made for the Math Wizards advisor position.  

The consent agenda included approving the minutes of the Sept. 4 regular meeting minutes and the Sept. 18 special meeting minutes, as well as accepting the proposed fundraisers for this school year and the staff seniority list. 

The next regular meeting of the Chatfield School Board is set for Wednesday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. in the high school Forum room.  The public is welcome to attend.  For more information, log onto the school website at or stop in at the district office inside the high school on Union Street.