School Board hears plans for new classes

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson

Montevideo School Board members who are part of separate committees reported to the remainder of the board the news from the committee meetings over the past month at the regular monthly meeting Monday evening. One of the topics discussed was the Technology Committee meeting, in which board member Andrew Stenson was in attendance. He noted that one of the biggest topics of discussion at that meeting was the phone system that is currently 20 years old and will be upgraded this summer. Superintendent Luther Heller added that “I think one of the real keys is looking into the upgrading of the phone system. It is really an old phone system. It served us well but we’re starting to have difficulty with it so that’s an important update to have come on and it’s really important to look at as we look at long-term projects.”

Community Education Administrator Bob Grey was also in attendance virtually to give the board an update about the school’s childcare program. “As you know that since last March we have taken a financial hit. The limited numbers, having to stay under ten kids per room for most of the summer and now limited to 15 which is a few kids less than we’re used to, so financially it’s been a struggle over the last year,” Grey said. To help alleviate some of the costs, the committee had some proposals to implement over the summer including limiting the flexibility of schedules. “Over the years we’ve been really flexible with schedules and scheduling half days and allowing random schedules…that works great when we have an unlimited number of kids per room. That doesn’t work as well when you’re limited to a max of 15 kids per room because once you give up that slot you really can’t fill it because that kid may come,” Grey said. Thus, the committee is looking at eliminating half-day options for the summer and also asking that people provide a consistent schedule each week. “We have hired staff for that child and we have to pay staff whether they are there or not,” Grey said. They also discussed not allowing drop-ins for now as the limited number of kids allowed makes allowing drop-ins difficult. “And everything may change,” said Grey. “Everything I say is dependent upon what the guidance is. It’s more strict for daycares than it is for schools. So we have to do some things to limit the loss of revenue so we can continue to offer childcare.”

The program is still offering walking kids to and from Summer Rec activities. In the last days of June, the program plans to move back to the Sanford School building for the summer, as they have also been utilizing the T.A.C. 

High School Principal Weber was in attendance to give updates from the High School with a discussion about some of the new updates to scheduling for eighth-grade students. “It’s a really jam-packed schedule and there’s not a lot of options. What we’ve seen over the years is that kids were dropping Band and Choir to have a Study Hall because that was their only option to have a study hall, so we kind of talked about what we could come up with to alleviate that,” Weber said. The result was the addition of some classes. Weber noted that Mr. Olson is offering a class incorporating math with some problem-solving skills, building bridges, etc. Art is moving to a semester-long class instead of a quarter-long class. Mr. Foley will also be teaching a Robotics 1 class with a second-year class for Robotics 2. Ms. Schueler in the Ag Department will also teach a floral design class. “It opens up more choices for eighth-graders. You find a lot of those kids greatly benefit from a Study Hall and they can have that without having to drop band or choir,” Weber said. “We’re excited about the new offerings next year. It gives kids more choices.”

Mr. Weber also reported that there was a team-up with the Montevideo Police Department recently to help provide some bicycles from the impound lot that were never claimed to students who have had trouble getting to school because they live too close to ride the bus but too far to walk.  

The Board also took some time during the meeting to pass a resolution congratulating students earning special honors in activities and sports from the Winter season. 

“Lots of students doing some really good things even with a bunch of crazy pressure going on. We’re really proud of these kids,” said board member Andrew Stenson.