Kingsland fills open board position, adds another


GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Zachary Queensland has been chosen as the Kingsland High School student representative to the School Board.
By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Kingsland’s School Board welcomed two new members during the Nov. 19 regular meeting, though one was someone who had never left the board in the first place and the other is a non-voting member.

Kingsland School Board member Leah Stier, who originally was going to finish her own term that ends Dec. 31 and not remain on the board, was appointed to round out the rest of departing member Heather Betts’s term, as Betts tendered her resignation on Nov. 1 due to her family’s having moved just outside the school district’s boundary.  The board voted in favor for Stier to take on the remaining two years of Betts’s term after she volunteered to do so.  

That still leaves the board one seat short until newly-elected representatives take their seats in January. The Nov. 6 election had the board seeking three new members — Maranda Emig successfully ran for a seat and Natasha Howard and Kyle Rader were elected by write-in, garnering enough votes out of the nearly 100 write-in candidates to earn a seat. 

The change in residence for Betts came after filing for the election last summer so the district wasn’t able to hold a special election for her seat on Nov. 6. Although the board appointment of Stier to serve the rest of her term fills that opening, the board will have just five members through December since Stier was already on the board. 

Kingsland Superintendent Jim Hecimovich welcomed a new member to the board who was not elected by the people of the district — Zachary Queensland, who was elected by the Kingsland Student Council.  The state, back in 1993, recommended that a student representative be on each school board, and then the recommendation was rescinded, although the option is still viable. The Kingsland Student Council recently recommended to the board that Queensland be student representative to the board.  

“He can sit in on the meetings, he can offer suggestions and hear what we’ve got to say, but he can’t vote, and if there’s a closed session, he has to leave the room,” said Hecimovich. “I think he’s one of the best choices the Student Council can make for a representative, because he’s in everything and on both sides of politics.  He’s an excellent choice.”

Following the vote to retain Stier and welcome Queensland, the board approved the renewal of School Management Services’ (SMS) contract for business management with the district, ultimately allowing former Kingsland business manager Amber Uhlenhake Herbrand, who became a SMS employee after several years with the district, to stay on as the district’s business advisor. Hecimovich thanked the board for keeping her in her current position.

Football concerns

The item that got the most attention, after all the regular business was carried out, was the head football coaching position currently held by Brent Stinson, who was hired to overhaul the football program a few years ago and was topic of discussion during the board workshop because parents and assistant coaching staff brought it to board members’ attention.  

Band instructor Josh Hogberg spoke during the visitors’ portion of the meeting, outlining that he felt that Stinson deserves more time to develop his teams and his coaching because over the years between 2003 and present, the average head football coach has been on staff for three years and working without access to an on-site athletics director up until recently when John Dols took the job in addition to his role as district grounds and maintenance director.  

Hogberg stated that the board had discussed during meetings just a few years ago about how to keep a football team active at Kingsland, as participation had dwindled and there weren’t many options left, but that upon Stinson’s hiring, participation increased and conversation didn’t revolve around how to sustain the program.  He commented that the board’s approach to keeping the football team viable was counterproductive because it hired Stinson, who’s also a teacher and the only coach who is a teacher, to keep students academically eligible for playing on the team and then turned on the head coach due to a losing season. 

“You, as the Kingsland School Board of Education are showing that your goals are not to keep students (academically eligible), but that winning is the priority,” he said. 

Parent Eric Mundfrom countered that he had concerns about how Stinson runs the football program because of various factors, such as students who were assigned to work off their on-field misdeeds and mistakes by doing drills and being let off after a short amount of time, teaching them that even if they’re in the wrong, they can simply do only part of the work. Mundfrom cited that he had heard that students in ninth through 12th grade were being awarded letters for participation, not for achieving something special in football, and that he felt that that isn’t right.  

“I hear one theme is that coach Stinson isn’t open to input from the assistant coaches,” he added.         

After those statements were made, the he board closed the meeting to the public for a personnel evaluation of Stinson’s coaching methods. The meeting was later reopened, though the board cannot take any action on the subject until the December board meeting, which will be Dec. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Kingsland choir room.

Personnel changes

In personnel matters, the board accepted the resignations of transportation director Kevin Klomps, assistant football coach Tim Bestor and van driver Candace Strahl.  

The board then hired Terry Allard as a van driver, Dustin Tart as the district’s new transportation director, Jim Hubka as junior high boys’ basketball coach, Matt Reiland as junior high girls’ basketball coach, Jamie Fenske as junior varsity and ninth grade girls’ basketball coach, Steve Hauser as head varsity girls’ and ninth grade girls’ basketball coach, John Fenske as head varsity and ninth grade boys’ basketball coach, and Scott Rindels as junior varsity and ninth grade boys’ basketball coach.

Reports to board

In reports to the board, FFA members Sydney Eickhoff and Jenna Schmidt reported that the Spring Valley-Wykoff FFAers had been busy at career development event (CDE) competitions in Lanesboro and that the forestry team had gotten third place and the soils team, fifth place.  They added that the annual corn drive to raise funds for Camp Courage and local food shelves went well, bringing in $4,500, and that Greenhand Camp, for ninth graders, is coming up and will offer etiquette and the basics of FFA membership to its attendees.  

In a report from Student Council, Queensland observed that the members have been selling candy as fundraisers and that a Sadie Hawkins dance is in the works. 

Drama department director Sarah Kohn, who recently joined the district, introduced herself to the board and gallery, saying, “I want to thank (former director) Megan Hammon, John Dols and Michelle Reichstadt for helping me find this position…the drama club meets every other Wednesday, our one-act play has 11 kids in it from eighth grade to 12th grade, and we’ll have a public performance on Jan. 25, with subsections being Jan. 26. Thankfully, we’ve got our spring play planned, too – it’s ‘The Mouse That Roared.’”

Other items

Items on the agenda that required short attention included approving the pay increase for substitute teachers from $9.65 per hour for non-licensed and $100 a day for licensed to current minimum wage for non-licensed and staying the same at $100 a day for licensed -- as Hecimovich related that there will be a minimum wage increase effective Jan. 1. The board also accepted the annual audit presentation given by Jason Boynton at the workshop on Nov. 5.  

Prior to the Dec. 17 regular meeting, a board workshop is set for Monday, Dec. 3, at 6 p.m. in the Kingsland Elementary School conference room.  The public is welcome to attend.  For more information, logonto the Kingsland website at www.kingsland.k12.mn.us, or call the district office at 507-346-7276.