The School Board of GFW Public Schools met on Tuesday, February 21. Below is a summary of the meeting.
School and Community Recognition Award
The GFW School Board recognized and celebrated the students of GFW Middle School for their wonderful commitment and participation in the recent engagement session and their wonderful achievements during this school year. Dr. Horton shared his excitement in presenting the award to students, who were represented by three members for the student council.
“Student voice is so important in all aspects of education, and we know facilities are no different,” said Dr. Horton. “We were super excited about the enthusiasm and engagement shown by our middle school students. They were so focused and so driven!”
Dr. Horton also shared that the facilitator of the session, former education commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller shared that she thought the students were the best group of middle school students she had worked with. Our students are truly outstanding members of our community and we will continue to celebrate and encourage their excitement and drive.
Dr. Horton shared information about a variety of topics during his report including highlighting the new GFW Public Schools Mobile App.
As requested during the last board meeting, a variety of information was shared on the upcoming April 11 two-question building bond referendum election. Our district will hold a two-question building bond referendum on Tuesday, April 11, 2023 to address facility challenges with proposals to build a new school in one of two possible configurations. In addition, if a single-site PreK-12 option is approved, the district will be able to offer voters the opportunity to revoke and replace the current operating levy at a reduced rate due to the savings of operating a single facility via an upcoming election in November.
He also shared that the Minnesota Department of Education has approved of the proposed project. As part of the analysis, MDE reviews the last five years of enrollment, current enrollment, as well as the forecast for the next five years. Based on the department’s analysis of the school district’s required documentation and other pertinent information from sources of the Minnesota Department of Education, the Commissioner of Education provided a positive review and comment.
Information was also shared about the impact of indoor air quality on K-12 schools from national company Carrier. The board approved some projects last summer to address indoor air quality at current buildings and this would be a big part of other facilities projects proposed in the April 11 election.
There were also a few updates from Facilities and Grounds Director Brian Weir on a few issues with leaks in both school buildings. His team will keep monitoring those and will work to address them as possible.
School Finance Update
CFO Lindsey Heine shared a presentation that was prepared by the district’s financial consultants Robert W. Baird & Co. to provide an overview of public education funding in the state of Minnesota. School districts have a number of different funds that can be used for very specific purposes ranging from transportation, food service, community education, and more. There are a variety of different formulas used to determine funding as well as counts of enrollment or students using food services.
School districts get revenue from federal, state, local, and miscellaneous revenue sources. GFW Public Schools revenue breakdown is very close to state averages as far as percentages for each source. Each funding option has a corresponding state statute that oversees the use of the fund as well as how it is calculated and what it can be used for.
The board reviewed recent policy updates in a first reading and will revisit the policies at their next meeting.
The board approved the consent agenda including retirements planned for June 2023.
Resolutions and Action Items
The board heard information about the Election Judge resolution that names the judges and what they will be paid for serving as judges for any 2023 elections. Judges are from Sibley County since judges are trained on the same system that is used in Sibley County. The board unanimously approved the resolution for election judges for the April 11, 2023 election that will have three combined polling places open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The board also unanimously took action to address board meeting technology. After utilizing zoom meetings and laptops, the district is considering additional technology to help broadcast meetings. There are other options available to broadcast meetings that require the board to approve. Director of Technology and Online Learning Wade Werner was charged by the board to explore other options for consideration.
A memorandum of understanding was recommended between teachers and the school district to continue the Grow Your Own program in the district. The MOU was approved by the teacher’s union and the school district. The board unanimously approved the memorandum of understanding.
The board also voted unanimously to establish an absentee ballot board for the April 11, 2023 referendum election. The resolution is required by statute to establish a board of trained election judges to oversee all absentee ballots and determine their validity.
The board also accepted donations from individuals and community organizations.