Sports fees for the 2020-21 school year and capping class sizes for kindergarten through second grade were two of several items the Laporte School Board discussed at the Feb. 10 meeting.
The meeting lasted about 90 minutes and also included discussion of the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program and facility improvements.
After discussion, some of the items were tabled until the March meeting because Chair John Seegmiller and Clerk Joe Jorland were unable to attend.
Nicki Martinez, dean of students at Laporte School, opened the meeting by talking about the PBIS program that was started at the school during the 2018-19 school year.
PBIS is a proactive approach that schools use to improve school safety and promote positive behavior. The focus is prevention, not punishment. PBIS calls on schools to teach students positive behavior strategies, just as they would teach about any other subject — like reading or math.
Martinez said now that the program is in its second year, staff fully understand it, and the referral numbers from the first to second year are going down.
“The goal is to have zero referrals, but we work with the students so they don’t get three referrals,” she said.
A Friday Club, held seventh hour each Friday, is a fun activity students can sign -up for if they are not on the referral list.
Some of the positives include a hat day fundraiser and giving tickets out for prizes. Prizes include books and games for younger students, and gift cards for older ones. Martinez said they need to work harder on older students getting tickets for prizes.
Sports fees discussion
Laporte School is one of only a few districts in the state that don’t charge a sport or extracurricular activity fee.
This subject has been brought up over the years, but last year when the board was discussing co-oping sports with Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School, parents and taxpayers said they would be willing to pay a sports fee.
Goodwin said she reached out to other district similar in size to Laporte to find out what they charge for a sport per student. The cost ranged from as low as $40 up to $105 per activity. Most districts also have a family cap that was between $120 to $275 for the school year.
WHA School has a program called Wolf Pride, where money raised from concessions and community donations go into a fund to pay for sports fees for students who qualify. The fee is also waived for students who are on the free and reduced lunch program.
The board will also bring this item up for further discussion at the March meeting.
Capping class sizes
The administration recommended the board cap kindergarten, first- and second-grade, and create a waiting list for out-of-district students.
Of the four teachers this would affect, two recommended the cap at 25 students, and the other two said 23 and 22.
“We are doing this because we have to stop having 30 students in a class,” Superintendent Kim Goodwin told the board, reminding them this is only capping class sizes and not enrollment.
Goodwin said this will move the district to a one-section school, which will save money.
This item was also tabled until March.
In the Principal’s Report, AJ Dombeck told the board the K-12 enrollment is currently at 324 students.
In other business, the board:
Approved the Memorandum of Understanding for the Gear Up Get Ready. This curriculum program for only seventh- and eighth-graders right now, is at no cost to the district and is another resource the staff can use.
Training will be given to staff in the near future.
Approved the Sanford Sports Medicine Agreement, which is a free service Sanford provides for all home sporting events.
Approved Mary Hegna’s leave of absence.
Accepted Chris Sjogren resignation at the end of the school year. Sjogren has been a Middle School Language Arts instructor the past two years.
Moved parent/teacher conference from Feb. 25 to March 5.
Tabled the first reading of all the annual mandatory policies until the March 9 meeting.
Approved purchase of a $6,000 water softener, if it’s for the entire school and not just for the laundry room. Goodwin said the water is so orange that all the sports uniforms are getting ruined.
Approved lease for a smaller copier for the back district office. The old staff color copier and printer will go away, and the newer and nicer copier in district office will be moved to the staff room.
The new lease of $185 per month is currently more than what the district pays, but the school is getting a new product.