Mabel-Canton board welcomes new member

BARB KERNS/NEWS LEADER Superintendent Gary Kuphal, left, administers the oath of office to newly-elected Mabel-Canton School Board member Dustin Tollefsrud.
By : 
Barb Kerns

The Mabel-Canton School Board welcomed newly-elected member Dustin Tollefsrud to the board during its November meeting.

In order to comply with election requirements, the Mabel-Canton School Board changed its meeting date from the regular third Tuesday to Wednesday, Nov. 13, to canvass the special election on Nov. 5. Tollefsrud received 24 votes in the election.  Write-ins were: Leah Austin, 8; Brock Bergey, 8; Matt Snyder, 3; Matt Garness, 1; Russell Larson, 1; Joel Sloan, 1 and Stephanie Westby, 1.  There were also two spoiled ballots for a total of 49 votes cast. 

Tollefsud affirmed his acceptance and oath of office was administered.  The final step will be to have the paperwork signed and notarized. 

Superintendent Gary Kuphal noted that the public has seven days to contest the election results.  After the expiration of the seven-day period, if there are no objections, Tollefsrud would be allowed to take office, effective Nov. 20 in this case.  

Kuphal also provided clarification regarding the 30-day waiting period previously enacted.  Kuphal stated that since this situation is a regular two-year election, only a seven-day waiting period is required.

Senior policies

In meeting business, Payton Danielson, representing the senior class as president, requested that the board approve the last two-and-one-half days off after Memorial Day for the senior class students.  This privilege has been granted in prior years, providing that there is no senior skip day.  The request was approved.  

The policy regarding student eligibility to walk at the senior graduation ceremony was touched upon specifically as it pertains to students who would not meet the requirements to receive a diploma.  Also mentioned was the availability for attendance on the senior trip for students who would not meet the graduation requirements as well for any reason whether grades, attendance or other issues. 

Board member Traci Livingood stated that if students have health or other issues that delay their graduation, they should still be able to walk but would not receive a signed diploma.  

As to the class trip, the consensus was to continue to follow the current policy which allows attendance as long as the Minnesota State High School League and manual policy are observed.  Board member Diane Wilder stated that the Washington trip provides a great learning opportunity, which was agreed upon by the other board members.  There was also discussion as to required school attendance for those seniors not going on the trip.  The actual policy will be presented at the December meeting for board viewing.  

FFA report

FFA members Natalie Murray, Emma Middendorf, Tanner Marquardt and Bethany Schneekloth were in attendance with a presentation on the national FFA conference, the four students that had been in attendance at the event.  The event commemorated the 50-year anniversary of allowing women to participate in the FFA organization. 

The members of the group spoke of the highlights of the speakers at the conference.  They were able to visit the Indy Speedway as well as other Indianapolis area attractions.  Each stated who their favorite speaker was and what their take-away was for each student.  They were transported by bus with other Region 8 Minnesota schools.  All states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were represented. 

Tuition rates

As a follow-up to the October meeting, discussion on setting the tuition rate continued.  The Iowa rate is $6,700, with the Minnesota rate for general education being $6,438.24.

Although the rate varies annually, Kuphal proposed that the rate be accepted as the lower of the two states' rates to avoid the need to adjust a dollar amount annually.   A motion was made and approved to set the rate as recommended by Kuphal. 

Principal report

Principal Michelle Weidemann complimented the fall extra-curricular volleyball and trap teams on their performances.  In addition to the good showing in both events, all participants are excellent students.  Lonnie Morken was also congratulated for his acknowledgement as top 1A volleyball coach. 

Weidemann stated that filling the roles of student representatives to the School Board is still in the works.  Veteran’s Day program was again a success and was well attended, including nursing home residents who were transported by van to observe the event. 

Weidemann also reported that an application for the Arlin Falck grant has been submitted with proceeds to be used for junior achievement third and fourth grade curriculums. 

The Student Council is sponsoring a hat day with the proceeds to go to the Cords family, which was the victim of a home fire. 

Superintendent report

Kuphal touched upon volunteer coaches to be utilized by the district.  Since the fall season is now ending and the winter sports are beginning, the board had been requested to approve both the paid and volunteer coaches, especially since those volunteers had to pass a background check in order to be approved.  This winter season those volunteers are Jeff Rein and Jon Wangsness for boys and Heather Wilder and Abby Henry for the girls’ basketball programs.  

Kuphal also presented his viewpoint regarding coach buses being utilized for student transportation needs.  The school will provide a school bus for transportation to an extra-curricular activity.  Usage of a coach bus would not be paid for by the school due to the increased cost.  Any usage will need to be paid for by the group or individual involved outside of the school.  No actual vote was requested or needed. 

Kuphal also gave a construction update regarding the safe entry project.  Wall demolition, heat locations are being determined and the framework for the new roof has been installed and the roofers will be finishing that portion of the project.  Those items will finalize the demolition portion of the project with the anticipated completion date still expected to be Christmas.  One door access for the first home basketball game on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving is planned. 

Southeast Service Coop is having elections for positions, with one education board vacancy to be filled.  Kuphal stated in his report that there were six individuals at the nursing home interested in voting for the School Board vacancy in the special election.  Brock Bergey and Kuphal went to the facility as required to enable these people to complete the voting process in their capacity as election judges. 

Kuphal also stated that there was also interest amongst the residents to see the school Powerpoint and hear about the school activities. 

Mustang mascot

Phil Richert was present to offer the wood cutout of the former North Winneshiek Mustang to Mabel-Canton School (see related story). An official acknowledgment of the presentation will be made on a future North Winn night.  

In addition, Kuphal suggested that the display be expanded to include the Mabel Wildcat and Canton Raiders mascots to acknowledge the past students who contributed to the current school district.  The consensus was to continue the efforts to acknowledge the recognition of the school's heritage. 

Other business

An update on World's Best Work Force presentation was given by Weidemann.  Adjustments and progress towards each goal were given. 

Both agreements with the Hiawatha Valley Education District to purchase educational services and reimbursement for student membership were approved.  Kuphal also stated that there will be no immediate future construction planned.

Consent agenda items approved included acceptance of a $200 donation from Scheie Rebecca Circle to be used for child activities and the resignation of Abby Henry as Title/SPED para effective Dec. 20.   The list of winter coaches was also approved. 

Financial consent items approved were the 2019-20 budget, high school activity payments and invoices and electronic fund transfers. 

Future meetings are scheduled for a Truth in Taxation hearing prior to the regular meeting on Dec. 17 at 6 p.m.   Regular meeting dates are Jan. 21 and Feb. 18 at 6 p.m.