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School board holds March meeting

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The Gettysburg School Board had a full agenda during the regular meeting on March 10.
Board member Kay Schmidt, who serves on the school building committee, told the board that it has been a slow process but there is now visible proof the project is moving (see photo, page 16). They were waiting for the last of the concrete to be poured, which would help give a more accurate and detailed time line for the project. Board member and building committee member Brian Robbennolt added that a redesign of steps is being reviewed, which should provide a cost savings and provide a better design.
Scott Sikkink of HKG Architects said that some minor changes will drop the cost of the building, including the change in the steps, eliminating some fire doors because the building is sprinkled, and eliminating a door in the storage room. He said that the building is here, it is going up, and plans are in place for the concrete pour. They have also been keeping a close eye on the frost so there are no issues there.
Sikkink talked about the water, and said they have yet to see the revised civil drawings but did get a preliminary drawing from the city. He also hadn’t previously seen the streets full when the spring water run happens, but after seeing the signs warning to be careful of water on the road as he drove into town for the meeting, said he has a better understanding of the water concerns. Sikkink is working with the city, and Maintenance Supervisor Russell Anderson attends the school building meetings to make sure they are all working together and on the same page. The building committee meets each week,
Board member Kim Schweiss, who serves on the color committee, reported that the choices are being made and coming together well. Sikkink said that it is an important job and the effort is really appreciated, but it is definitely at a feverish pitch right now. They are looking at colors for everything from trim, door handles, split face, interior paints, lockers, doors, and there are pages of items and colors that need to be selected.
It was also explained that the doors will have push-to-lock capability, so if emergency situations require, they can be push locked from the inside of rooms, and keys from authorized personnel would allow access from the hallway. Sikkink said that was a lesson learned in the fatal Sandy Hook school tragedy and it was critical that the change be made.
Safety procedures have been updated for the school during the construction, so students and staff know where to go in the event of an emergency.
The board adjourned to separate executive sessions for negotiations and legal issues.
Two options were presented during discussion of the next year’s school calendar. The options were also sent to Hoven for their review.
Superintendent Tim Hagedorn talked about the proposed changes in the calendar, and there was discussion about holding conferences earlier in the semester to better benefit the students. Some conflicts with sports events would come with the second calendar option, but it was reported that all the teachers who voted on the calendar selected the second option.
Board president Matt Cronin said it could be approved later to give the staff more time to review it, and it will be added to the agenda and discussed further during a special meeting March 26.
There will be no school board election this year for the three open positions on the board. Petitions were filed by Mark Schatz and Paul Kellogg, and an appointment will need to be made by July. The board was encouraged to be thinking of people who could be appointed to fill the remaining position.
Gary Oaks was hired as the head coach for golf. He was the assistant coach last year, and since it is anticipated that there will be a good turnout for the golf team, the school is still looking for an assistant coach.
Principal Wendy Smith gave her administrative report. Some of the report included that Mrs. Poeppel was contacted by SD Department of Labor to have her students participate in a writing project to find out how students would prepare for a GED; students did well at the FFA contest; the pep band was “band of the day” at the State B girls basketball tourney; the senior trip is set for April 1-5 to Minneapolis, and they need to be back in order to go to the State FFA on April 6; and preparation is being done for online testing. She also said that there was discussion about signing up for the summer pig project that is part of the county fair.
Hagedorn’s report touched on the five year school improvement plan which needs to be done within the next six months, so a committee will get together to work on that. He has received applications for the English teacher position along with science teacher applications. He said they look like promising candidates and interviews will be scheduled. No applicants have come in for the ag position, but options are being explored. Sports activities are winding down, and indoor track practice has started.
The board had two other executive sessions for student issues and for personnel. After the executive session, a motion made for increasing hours for junior high and high school Special Ed department was passed.
A special meeting to further discuss contract negotiations will be held on Wednesday, March 26.
The minutes of the board meeting are published on page 17 of the News, and are available online at www.pottercountynews.com and at www.sdpublicnotices.com. The meetings are open to the public.

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