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Graduation not May 22, spring advisors paid

DARLINGTON – With so much information still in limbo, the Darlington Community School District’s Board of Education approved that graduation will not be on May 22 this year.

District Administrator Cale Jackson told the board that a survey of the senior class showed that 54 percent wanted to wait and see what will happen later on in the year and try to have a graduation ceremony on school property.

The board had previously talked about having a virtual graduation or a drive thru ceremony but the seniors did not like that idea. They were hoping to wait until July. Jackson made the recommendation after speaking with Tom Uppena to cancel the May 22 date and have the ceremony on July 17 on the football field.

Board president Aaron Wolfe stated that July 17 was the same week as the Lafayette County Fair.

Colleen Reichling didn’t want to take people away from that event but was unsure what event were going to take place on that date.

Joe Schilling made the suggestion to wait until July 24. Reichling said some students would be leaving for technical colleges during that time.

Schilling then asked about July 10. Maintenance Director Lee Black stated the high school would be having some maintenance done and the parking lot would be filled.

Reichling suggested waiting and seeing how things panned out, as there are still so many unknowns.

Joe Riechers stated it didn’t have to be on a Friday night so there could be other dates in July than just the dates mentioned.

Bob Hermanson made the motion to not have graduation on May 22 with Riechers seconding. It passed.

Spring Advisor Pay

Jackson was asked to survey the spring advisors to see what they had accomplished before school was shut down. All that responded stated they were about 2/3 of the way done. Some were able to get more done and some were able to do things virtually. The Negotiations Committee met and recommended the board pay the advisors 100 percent of their pay and spring coaches 75 percent.

Schilling made the motion to accept the recommendation with Hermanson seconding.

Wolfe thought the spring sports coaches were being paid 2/3 pay. Jackson corrected himself and stated it would be 60 percent pay, not 75 percent.

Wolfe still wanted to see if the $130,000 stimulus money could be used to pay the spring coaches the rest of their salary when that money does arrive. Jackson stated the district might have more guidance on that when they receive it.

Paying coaches, advisors

Jackson recommended the board separate the coaching and advisory contracts from the teaching contracts when the teaching staff take those positions. There have been issues in the past where coaches who are on staff have to resign from their position as coaches and it is a hassle to go back into their salary and take that money away. When the contracts are separated, the money paid to coaches and advisors will be given at the end of the year.

Jackson said there were some exceptions with the band director for DEMS and the high school and the ag or FFA advisor. Only the head ag advisor would have the exception.

Schilling made the motion with Riechers seconded. It passed.

Referendum update

The district had planned to vote on the referendum in August: $1.4 million for operating expenses and $10 million for building projects. The board decided to delay the August vote and was looking at November.

Jackson suggested the board change the amount asking: keep the $1.4 million for operating expenses but change the $10 million for building projects to $5 million. They would make sure to do the most immediate things needed such as the DEMS HVAC, kindergarten rooms, lunch room and remodel the girls’ locker room. They could then wait and see if they get the FEMA grant they are working on. The grant would pay 75 percent of the dome structure that would encompass a gymnasium, classroom, weight room and/or other things, all inside a concrete structure that will double as a tornado or natural disaster shelter.

Wolfe stated it made sense to scale back on the amount but the November date did not need to be set in stone just yet.

Teresa Siegenthaler asked about when the district comes back to school in September and if there happens to be restrictions on how the students are being taught, such as only 12 to a classroom, would it be the right idea to ask these referendum questions then. She wondered if the district would have to hire more staff if there were those restrictions in place.

Jackson stated they would not have to hire more staff. The idea would be that the kindergarten through sixth grade students would meet in the building. If they restricted only 12 to a classroom, then the students would alternate days being in the classroom and doing it virtually online. Seventh grade through senior would be doing their classes virtually. This is just an idea that was created and will not be implemented unless directed by the state and/or DPI.

No action was taken as it was not an action item.

Art Teacher position

Long time art teacher Greg Bykowski retired at the end of the school year. The board discussed on how to post the new position. Bykowski was not a full time teacher. His position was only about 80 percent. They did have to raise him to that position as the art program grew with interest and he added to his position as an advisor for the Art Club.

Principal Aaron Lancaster stated that with the program Bykowski has built up, it is strong and still growing.

Reichling was fine with posting the position of 80 percent but also stated Bykowski had very packed classrooms. She stated that if raising the position of 100 percent helped free up some space that would be fine.

Lancaster stated there was also a very strong ESL presence in the classroom.

Hermanson made the motion to post the position at 100 percent or full time with RJ Brunkow seconding. It passed.

Other business

The Board of Education also approved/accepted:

-        a donation of a tree from the Freshman class to be planted on the school grounds in memory of Carson Hartwig.

-        a donation from Casey’s General Store.

-        the discount offered by Lamers Bus Company of 15% discount for April and May.

-        the Technology, Activities, DHS and DEMS budgets for 2020-2021.

-        sending a letter to support staff offering them back in September.

-        carrying over an extra week of vacation time for full time staff.

-        allowing students to keep their chrombooks over the summer.

-        Danielle Duerst as Head Volleyball Coach.

-        the resignation of Aaron Lancaster as Activities Director.