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School Board reviews State Aid Task Force report and receives gifted funds

For the school and students ... The Cottonwood Roping Club presented money and land to the Haakon School District to be used for scholarships. From left, Vern Omdahl, Cliff Fees and Dan Oldenberg present a check to School Board President Matt Reedy as Superintendent Keven Morehart looks on.

Roger Porch of Philip, a member of that Department of Education task force, was disappointed. "I originally thought that our task was to brainstorm and make recommendations to the Board of Education. But, we gave no specific recommendations."

Porch, a former legislator, predicts that any action taken from the task force's 60-page report will be "same old, same old.

"In my view, some type of sparsity factor is looked upon favorably by most people," said Porch. The Haakon School District does not receive a sparsity factor because of a current fund balance. "The 150 percent rule on valuing real estate should go away," said Porch, "because it would then help equalize taxes. Legislators are simply going to look at the printouts to see if it (accepting higher property sales) will raise taxes for their constituents."

The task force collected statistics on various issues such as a possible minimum school enrollment, student achievement in smaller versus larger schools, small school factor, consolidation incentives and penalties for fund balances. Porch said, "There is a ton of information in the full report, but will the legislature have the stomach to do something with these figures?"

Superintendent Morehart was also disappointed and said, "My personal opinion is we (the school district) got nothing out of this." Board member Craig Hanrahan agreed, "That is one of the fallacies of a committee, they don't really have any authority."

Porch concluded by stating that school bus driver requirements will be part of the State Board of Education's next meeting. All drivers might have to follow all rest and hour requirements that truck drivers must obey. Morehart and Secondary Principal Jeff Rieckman both acknowledged that safety is paramount, but "we wouldn't have any drivers." An extra-curricular coach who drives to an event, then spends the day coaching (working) would not legally be able to drive back to Philip. A bus driver who works at their own occupation during the day would not be able to drive to an evening event.

The board also heard from The Cottonwood Roping Club. The club finalized the offer of its savings and property as principle for scholarships to help students in local communities. President Vern Omdahl, Vice-President Clifford Fees, and Secretary Dan Oldenberg presented a check for $8,445.59 and the quit-claim deed to an estimated 20 acres of land to the Haakon School system.

The property has good water, along with the chutes and corrals used for roping. The tax exempt school district may use or sell the land. Interest is to go into a scholarship fund to benefit students who are involved in rodeo.

"This came from rodeo - we want it to go to rodeo," said Omdahl. If interest is large enough, the scholarship could possibly go to three students each year, one each from Philip, Wall and Kadoka. Otherwise the scholarship might rotate between the three schools. For interest-building reasons, the Haakon School District 27-1 would manage all of the funds.

Upon receiving the check and keys to the fence lock, Board President Matt Reedy said, "On behalf of the board and the students, I thank The Cottonwood Roping Club for their very generous gift."

The rough draft was offered for a Fred and Bev McDaniel Scholarship. A $25,000 CD would be used to create two $1,000 scholarships for any Philip students for first year and first semester continued education. Recipients would be chosen on need and student initiative. The "expendable" funds would dip into capital and eventually be used - the idea for such funds is so the family can see the money go to the recipients.

The fieldwork on the school district's latest audit is complete and the rest will be finalized around January. Some preliminary suggestions are that segregation of duties should make responsibilities more separate. With the multiple duties of any individual in any very small system, this is sometimes difficult. Record-keeping of time spent in certified position can be "pretty much a painless fix," said Hanrahan "by filling out required forms twice a year."

The Alfalfa Valley mobile unit will be surplused and sold. The location's water tap will be dealt with separately.

The board approved a policy to restrict school-paid hotel accommodations for students in extra-curricular activities, unless the competition has gone beyond the district and region levels to be in state competition. When the wrestling team travels to a meet in Dickinson, the wrestlers each pay a portion of a shared room. Some wrestling teams sleep on the host school's mats. "Staying in hotels because of a blizzard would be a common sense action," clarified Hanrahan.

Morehart reported that a fire drill and inspection went well. A Fire Marshall suggestion was for smoke alarms to be replaced with heat sensors.

The Power Panther made a great presentation to the elementary. The panther danced and talked about healthy eating habits. The recent Grandparents Day hosted around 70 adults who ate lunch with the elementary students.

Four Philip football players were chosen for All-State; Casey Elshere as defensive end, Casey Cuny as running back, Nathan O'Dea as punter, and Lincoln Smith as defensive tackle. "Usually if a team gets four All-Staters, they are in the Dome," said Morehart.

Rieckman summarized the immediate school calendar. Winter sports have started practices. Vocal and instrumental concerts are coming soon. Grade checks for the second quarter mid-term will be November 27. The school is in the process of redoing its technology plan. Science on the Move, organized by Deb Snook, will be presenting sessions after Thanksgiving.

The next scheduled meeting for the Haakon School Board will be at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, December 18, in the A-1 Room of the Philip High School.