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School board adjusts Covid-19 Start Well plan

The Tea Area School Board met Dec. 20 and discussed adjusting the Start Well plan.

Superintendent Jennifer Lowery presented survey results on removing the mask mandate on school buses. The results from 979 responses showed 72.1 percent in favor of removing the mandate, 22.6 percent were not in favor and 5.3 percent were neutral. They received some comments from a bus driver, a parent and others who do not have children using busing.

She has been in contact with Harrisburg and Sioux Falls districts and they do not have mask mandates on their buses. She noted that students will remain in their assigned seats with their family members.

The board approved changing the mask requirement to highly recommended on buses on a 3-2 vote with Brett Waltner and Tara Johanneson voting no. Buses will follow the red, yellow, green system in place for school buildings.

After executive session at the end of the meeting, the board expelled a student until Dec. 13, 2022 for violating Policy JFCJ, a policy on dangerous weapons in the school. The board followed SDCL 13-32-8 and 12-32-4.

The board approved the 2022-23 school calendar. The first day of school will be Aug. 17 and the last day of school will be May 18. Graduation is scheduled for May 20. One notable change is that they will have the entire week of Feb. 20-24 off due to the large number of students that usually go to national choir and state wrestling that week.

They approved the resignations effective at the end of the school year for Alan West as middle school PE/health who is retiring, Ryan Olson as high school science and middle school girls basketball coach and Deb Grebin as middle school ELA who is retiring. They also approved the resignation of Michaela Timmerman as paraprofessional immediately.

They approved the new hires of Logan Shockman as middle school girls basketball coach, Zach Gors as middle school boys basketball coach and Stephanie Russett as middle school track coach.

Lowery provided an update to state legislators Herman Otten and Aaron Aylward on the district’s concerns and support of the governor’s proposal of a 6 percent raise of teachers. Concerns included the new alternative instruction law and social and emotional well-being.

The board approved raising the Sprouts registration fee from $50 to $60 to keep in line with area preschools. Transportation fees changed from a $25 flat fee to $2 per day for busing.

They approved the concrete bid from Schwartzle Construction for $46,000 for the band room addition at Legacy Elementary. They also approved the dirt work bid of $48,946 from Precision Dirtworks for the same project.

Business manager Chris Esping presented the five-year general fund plan update. They have enrollment projections based on historical numbers, which puts an estimated additional 125 students for next school year. In 2022-23, they are projecting adding three teachers and a counselor across the three elementary schools, two teachers in the middle school, an English, math/science and an ag teacher in the high school. Next school year also calls for additional maintenance staff, a bus driver, software specialist and administrative assistant. In the 2024-25 school year, the high school expansion is projected to open and the district will move to AA for all activities.

The board approved the administrative rule waiver request for a substitute for 12 weeks while a teacher is on FMLA leave.

The board received an update from the Continuous School Improvement coaches. She presented results from the parent and student engagement results in regards to Continuous School Improvement. Lowery thanked the community for their generosity to the Angel Tree, Pizza Ranch for their donations during the holiday season and TAPTO for providing muffins and coffee to all staff.

Lowery noted softball and competitive cheer have been adopted by SDHSAA and after Christmas the district will have to take formal action at an upcoming meeting on these sports.


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