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School board discontinues online academy at end of school year

The Tea Area School Board met May 10 and heard from curriculum director Tonia Warzecha on the Tea Area Online Academy.

Warzecha thanked all of the families who worked so hard with their students in the online academy. She said it was the right thing to do with the situations they were presented with starting the new school year with the pandemic in full swing.

At the beginning of the year, they had 166 students in the online academy and ended the year with 76.

She noted they struggled with attendance and engagement in the beginning. In November, they sent attendance letters to families in serious concern for attendance and academic concern. In February, they reached out to some students who were failing in the upper grades to say they need to return to school.

Superintendent Jennifer Lowery thanked the teachers and curriculum directors for doing their best to try to provide students with what they needed in the online academy.

The board approved Warzecha’s recommendation to discontinue the online academy at the end of the school year.

Business manager Chris Esping reported they will be receiving some one time funds in June from the state for $61,838 due to a difference in projected enrollment. She also noted there will be a school board election June 15 for the two open positions on the board. Three people have turned in petitions.

The board appointed Courtney Burrack, Kathy Retzlaff, Bonnie Haupt and Amanda Treloar as election workers.

The board approved the resignations for Austen Hurley as teacher, middle school football, ninth grade boys basketball and assistant girls golf, Andrew Griffith as half FBLA and Kent Sattler as assistant track effective at the end of the school year and the retirement of Delores Stratmeyer as foodservice director.

They approved the new hires for the 2021-22 school year for Lexi LaFave for high school math teacher, Andrew McCormick for high school social studies teacher and middle school boys basketball, Carley Shockman for elementary teacher and Matthew Bruce for middle school football.

The South Dakota High School Activities Association has an election coming up. The board moved to cast a yes vote for an amendment to the SDHSAA constitution regarding how enrollment numbers are collected from member schools. They also moved to vote for Cooper Garnos as the SDHSAA West River At-Large Rep and Derek Barrios as the SDHSAA Division III Rep - Superintendent.

They noted the summer hours for the business office to be Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., custodial department will work Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday 7-11 a.m., and the high school office will be open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. All hours will run from June 1 through July 31.

Lowery discussed the results of a survey with teachers, parents, students and employees about their preferred way to make up snow days in the future. The survey results showed 66.2 percent preferred having virtual snow days, 20.4 percent preferred making up snow days within the year on identified days and 13.4 percent preferred making up snow days at the end of the school year. She recommended working with grade level teachers to prepare for those days.

Lowery thanked the Tea Area Community Foundation for a $1,000 grant to the high school for purchasing residential construction equipment. She also thanked DeGeest for the welding competition they held last week.

She also thanked David Preheim and Kent Sattler for their many years of coaching in the district. She congratulated Collin Knudson on his Area II Principal awards.

The board heard from their continuous school improvement consultant on the strides they have been making. She said they have accomplished a lot and the district was featured in a national school administrators journal.

The next step of continuous school improvement is strategic planning. The board reviewed the four big aims they established and will work off of them.

The board went into executive session at 7:50 p.m.


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