Original article published in the Mower County Independent, Thursday, May 21,2022. Reprinted with permission and gratitude.
By Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Kingsland school board members were pleased to announce the hire of a new middle/high school principal during the May 2 board work session.
Kingsland Elementary School (KES) Principal Scott Klavetter, recently named successor to retiring Kingsland Superintendent Jim Hecimovich, gave his K-6 principal’s report, one of the last he will give as such because Deana Dontje will become Kingsland’s new 5-12 principal, and the search for a dean of students continues. The district has had interviews scheduled and had identified a potential candidate, fourth grade instructor Erin Milz, as of the time of the work session agenda’s release. Furthermore, the district has several open teaching positions, including a Physical Education and Health position and numerous elementary instructors’ positions that Klavetter stated he hoped to have filled by the end of May to prepare for the 2022-2023 school year.
He told the board that Dontje has “a lot of experience…we’re excited to have her here.” He added, “We have a lot of things going on, and now that we have the leadership team in place, we’ve been busy, but we’re right where we want to be.”
Klavetter stated that curriculum updates are of importance as the district examines what is available and how much replacing dated curriculum will cost. He noted that language arts standards will dictate what the district purchases and that he has been working with Kingsland’s Spanish instructor to upgrade the Spanish curriculum to “the most current copyright” so that teachers don’t pass by the chance to upgrade their materials now and regret the choice later.
Gary Kuphal, acting as interim superintendent while Hecimovich is on family and medical leave, registered that he was uncertain as to who would be serving as the official superintendent at the Kingsland graduation ceremony because he hadn’t discussed the possibilities with Hecimovich. He did point out that the approaching commencement observations would require the board to review the list of seniors eligible to graduate.
Board member Natasha Howard asked about Kingsland’s determination on how to recognize foreign exchange students departing the district at the end of the school year, as one student’s host family had inquired whether that student would be allowed to participate in graduation as part of the 2022 class. Previous board conversation with Hecimovich had led board members to conclude, as board chairwoman Jackie Horsman said, “they don’t meet the standards to actually get those other things” – with “other things” defined as the right to be awarded a Kingsland diploma. The board had considered letting exchange students stand and speak about their experiences at Kingsland and what they had enjoyed about being able to attend school here.
Kuphal then broached the topic of high school course offerings and how to shift students from one class to another if that class’s registration shows that there are too many students interested in such a course, as is the case with the high school’s welding class. The chemistry class’s registration “is too low” and leaves the administration and guidance counselor Bruce Rohne concerned that not enough interest exists to fill out an attendance roster.
Horsman commented that her own concern is that students choose to take college-level chemistry classes because they feel they can conquer the syllabus but find that it’s too difficult once they’ve signed up, after which they distribute the message that “that class is too hard,” in turn discouraging other students from taking any chemistry classes. She also relayed that “it seems like interests shift from year to year” with regard to students’ class choices.
Activities director Laurie Hendrickson reported that most games and tournaments have had to be rescheduled because fields and tracks are too wet for competition. “It’s been crazy,” she commented, adding that the recent bad weather has also disrupted spring sporting progress because the April 11 windstorm damaged a ballfield dugout as well as the football ticket booth. The district needs to obtain quotes for materials and labor for insurance purposes before accepting assistance from a local contractor who would like to donate labor to the reconstruction efforts.
Hendrickson then spoke of supply chain issues for ordering new athletic uniforms, “experiencing incredible delays” even as the uniforms were ordered a long time ago.
Also, Kingsland Athletic Booster Club (KABC) members have approached the district with support for tearing out the existing track and resurfacing it.
The board reviewed capital outlay requests and how to spend reserved funds. Kindergarten teachers have placed tile flooring on their wish lists to replace carpeting that was installed in 2008 when the former Art and Tech Ed classrooms were converted to kindergarten rooms. The existing carpeting has served its purpose and is “not comfortable to sit on anymore,” especially because it’s under students’ desks and has caught years of milk spills, crumbs, art project bits, glue and more.
The unusual situation that the district finds itself in is that it must spend funding allocated from pandemic education intervention monies and is having difficulty identifying items that fit the guidelines and that it truly needs to buy, but there is time left to choose what to purchase because the allotment’s deadline isn’t until September 2023.
The Kingsland May and early June calendar is very full – the Junior Knightette dance recital is set for this Saturday, May 14; the kindergarten through third grade concert is at 1 p.m. and the fourth through sixth grade concert is at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 20, followed by preschool graduation at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, May 21 brings the Kingsland School Parents (KSP) Color Run – a fundraising run that has become popular among sprinters of all ages; Thursday, June 2 features the Kingsland High School scholarship awards ceremony at 7 p.m., and graduation is slated for Friday, June 3 at 7 p.m.
Kingsland’s school board meets the third Monday of each month for its regular meeting and holds a workshop two weeks prior to manage business in advance. Meetings are held in the elementary conference room at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted, and the public is welcome to attend. For more information, log onto the Kingsland website at www.kingsland.k12.mn.us, or call the district office at 507-346-7276.