Kingsland Board reviews senior trip, medical aid, speed awareness

By: 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

The Kingsland School Board kicked off the first workshop of 2020 on Monday, Jan. 6, with a variety of items to discuss, including the proposed senior class trip, medical intervention by trained staff for students, the speed limit on County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 1 past the school building, and building maintenance issues.

Seniors Kaycie Bellrichard, Madeline Moore and Hannah Peshel appeared before the board to present information about a proposed senior class trip to Rapid City and Keystone, South Dakota, on which approximately a dozen students out of the class’s 38 would like to go. They listed that they had conducted a survey of their classmates to find out whether there would be interest in such a trip and found that half were interested and the other half not.

The trip would take students to Keystone, Rapid City, Custer State Park, the Mitchell Corn Palace, the Reptile Gardens and Wall Drug at a total cost of approximately $3,000 for transportation and lodging. The students pointed out that they’ve sold ice cream at home basketball games and hosted the homecoming dance and coronation to raise funds for their venture and that per student, dues would be about $100.

School Board Chairperson Jackie Horsman thanked the students for their informative presentation and commended them for including educational activities in their class trip, as it is not required.

Medical policies

Kingsland Superintendent Jim Hecimovich brought up a potential dilemma and solution for the district’s medical intervention needs. He observed that Kingsland has been privileged to have had two emergency medical technicians (EMTs) as district employees and that they have typically responded in case of student medical emergencies, determining whether a student needs to be put in an ambulance and sent to a hospital or simply released to a parent for observation or a parental decision on what should be done.

Currently, community education coordinator Becky Bicknese answers when she’s asked to evaluate a student or staff member who’s ill or has an injury. Hecimovich shared with the board that Bicknese has expressed some concerns about her role as an EMT and a Kingsland staff member, as there may be liability and compensation matters that have not been addressed.

“We’ve used them for broken arms and asthma attacks, and it’s nice to have them, but Becky’s worried about doing EMT services. I’ve found that there are (laws) that say that there’s no difference between a Good Samaritan and an EMT doing these things,” Hecimovich said. “We’re fortunate in the sense, lucky that we have an EMT, but at the ambulance, they’re worried about her license.”

He proposed that if legal, Bicknese could be given a stipend because she essentially functions as the school district’s first responder and nurse, a position that was eliminated approximately a decade ago when the district faced the choice between retaining a school nurse and cutting a teaching position. Hecimovich and board members acknowledged that while having a school nurse is a useful thing, few districts have the luxury of a full-time, dedicated school nurse on staff.

“We value the service of our employees. We need to be sure that we take care of our people…do what’s fair and expected,” Hecimovich said.

Kingsland Elementary School principal Scott Klavetter commented that it’s “very nice in the absence of having a school nurse” to have an EMT onsite throughout the school day.

Horsman posited, “Does she have the ability to communicate with parents?”

Hecimovich replied that school secretaries usually handle notifying parents of illness or injury if Bicknese is busy caring for a student and that Bicknese recommends to parents what ought to be done if a student isn’t in dire enough need of emergency transportation to a hospital.

“When in doubt, we contact the parent,” Klavetter said.

Hecimovich agreed, “We’ve had instances where we’ve said that we’re going to call the parent, but we’re not going to mess around – we’re going to call the ambulance.” Ultimately, Hecimovich stated, “I’m going to throw this by our attorney. We’re all covered as employees, but she’s providing a service onsite.”

Speed limit request

County Road 1’s speed limit is of concern to the administration, staff and board because the school building is situated along one of the most highly-traveled county roads that’s used as a commuter vein. Hecimovich had brought the matter to the board’s attention during the December workshop because there are grants available through Fillmore County that could help designate the road as a school route and provide for signs to notify motorists of a lower speed limit.

He pointed out that the “reduced speed ahead” sign that precedes the 30-mile-per-hour sign on the southbound lane of County 1 is often overlooked because of its placement near trees and that it’s a white sign that’s posted against snow for six months of the year.

He told the board that he had contacted Fillmore County Public Health Educator Brenda Pohlman for assistance in obtaining grant funding and that he’d also spoken with Fillmore County Commissioner Mitch Lentz, a former Kingsland School Board member who’s been aware of the need for speed limit reduction efforts and has forwarded the board’s input to Fillmore County highway engineer Ron Gregg. Additionally, there have been deputies patrolling CSAH 1 throughout the school day to slow traffic.

Hecimovich concluded that the aim is to post an electronic speed limit sign that grabs drivers’ attention and tells them that they have to slow down as they pass the school.

Building issues

Building maintenance issues of importance encompassed the exterior covering of the elementary courtyard playground – specifically, the lack of flashing that was included in plans during the design of the courtyard in 2007 and 2008. Hecimovich reported to the board that while the flashing was included in the plans, its absence wasn’t noticed until this spring when the district let students out of school early and another construction company started renovating parts of the school building and relayed the deficiency to the administration.

The board had previously discussed the discovery and considered how to proceed with gaining remuneration for the incomplete work, but the superintendent was disappointed to have to update its members with the news that the statute of limitations had run out on seeking redress.

Other facility news involved that cameras will be installed all around the building’s exterior to assist in bolstering building and grounds security, such as at entrances and near the bus garage.

New member

Board members were pleased to include new member Noella Lund in managing January’s business, and plans were in place for her to attend Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA) training and for the rest of the board who were due to continue their training at the upcoming MSBA conference this month.

Kingsland’s School Board will hold its January regular meeting two days later than usual due to the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday on Jan. 20 so this month’s meeting is set for Jan. 22. The public is welcome to attend the 7 p.m. meeting held in the Kingsland choir room. For more information, log onto the Kingsland website at www.kingsland.k12.mn.us, or call 507-346-7276.