On Monday, the ISD 544 School Board met in their first meeting of the year, holding first their reorganization meeting followed by their regularly scheduled meeting. After establishing a quorum, the meetings were called to order. 

In the reorganization meeting, the Oath of Office was taken by Matthew Lemke, Natalie Knutson and Stephen Vigessa. Melanie Cole was voted into the role of chairperson for 2021, the position was previously held by Lemke. Knutson assumed the role of vice chairperson with Missy Hermes remaining as clerk and Kirby Anderson remaining as treasurer. Committee representatives remained unchanged from 2020 and the only change to 2021 negotiations representative assignments was that of Cole replacing Lemke in district-wide individual contracts. 

The school board meeting consisted of discussion primarily related to the progress of Lincoln School and COVID-19 requirements.

Lincoln School’s open date has been delayed to late February, with an expected occupancy date around Feb 26, 2021. The school has been assured that there will be no further delays.

School personnel met with the district and both state and local health agencies regarding their plan to return to in-person learning. Contingent on the continuation of favorable COVID-19 rates in the area, grades 9 through 12 are slated to return to in-person instruction Monday, Wednesday and Friday, effective Jan. 20. Grades 7 and 8 will then transition to four days of in-person instruction effective Feb. 1. The gradual return to in-person learning is mandated by Gov. Tim Walz’s requirements put into place on Jan. 5. 

On Jan. 5, school staff was offered the opportunity to obtain free COVID-19 testing on a voluntary basis. Fifty-one staff took advantage of the opportunity. Another round of testing will be available to the staff on Jan. 19.  

Other items to note are as follows:

  • LED lighting at Kennedy Secondary School is being increased, as it provides better light for students. 

  • The wearing of masks during physical education class, as mandated by Gov. Walz, has been met with community concern. ISD 544 is working with parents and the community to address these concerns. 

  • Thao Drussell, ESL teacher at iQ Academy, resigned effective Jan. 21. 

  • Darin Rix has been hired as a custodian effective Jan. 18.

  • Ken Kunz’s position has changed to full-time delivery custodian effective Jan. 4.

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