Board of Education prepares for election, emergencies and end of the school year

Before the Haakon District 27-1 Board of Education meeting began on Monday, March 16, a public drawing was held to determine the order of names on the upcoming election ballot.

Also, eight election officials will be hired for election day. The five in Philip and three in Milesville will set up before 7:00 a.m. and close up after 7:00 p.m. They will be paid $8.50 per hour, rather than the historical minimum pay.

Haakon County Emergency Manager Lola Roseth and Public Health Nurse Heidi Burns asked the board for permission to designate the Philip High School gymnasium and the Fine Arts Building as a Point of Dispensing (POD) and an emergency shelter. The state has mandated that every county, or partnering consolidation of counties, must have a POD of emergency inoculations or medicine. Jackson and Haakon counties had planned to use the Philip American Legion hall, but it is not large enough to handle 4,500 people within 48 hours. The facilities could be used as emergency shelters, such as if a devastating blizzard hit the area.

Not only must emergency plans be formulated and documented, but at least one practice run must be held. Such a small-scale practice could be done when an annual flu-shot clinic is held for children. If the facilities are to be the POD and shelter, paperwork, including global positioning system information, has to be filed.

School board president Bill Slovek said, "It's a no brainer. This is the only place really big enough. The tax payers paid for it; they should be able to use it, especially in an emergency."

Board member Matt Reedy checked with Roseth on liability responsibilities. Roseth said that, supposedly, the state risk pool would cover it, but it is a definite issue, especially in any occasion that might be chaotic or panic-laden. Such usage of the facilities could not be considered any kind of school function.

With the hope that there is never a real need, the board approved the facilities being designated as a POD and emergency shelter. The board will look into and adjust the insurance coverage if needed.

The board, with regret, accepted the early retirement of sixth grade instructor Amelia Hurley. She has taught students in the Haakon School District for 35 years. "After many hours of contemplation, I have decided now would be a good year for me to retire," said Hurley. Second grade instructor Rachel Kjerstad has also not signed a contract for next year. "I am due to have my second child ... and have decided to stay home with my children. I hope to return to the school when and if a position should come available," said Kjerstad.

The board approved contracts for Brynn Coyle to coach junior high track and for Ralph Kroetch, Jr. to be the assistant track coach. Complying with the state requirement to list all volunteer coaches, the board has approved Pat Guptill to help with track and Jim Sandstrom, Brad Haynes and Dak Carley to help with golf. The school system has already hired two students for summer maintenance help.

The board and the state have approved an academic waiver for eighth grade computer class. Students may still take the course to earn a half credit for high school. This is similar to the algebra class waiver accepted earlier. High School Principal Jeff Rieckman will delay wording the waiver into the policy handbook until two school graduation requirement bills are resolved in the South Dakota legislature.

The board then went into an executive session for personnel matters. No action was taken.