FHS starts year with 398 students
By Robert Willams
High school principal Anna Potvin provided an update on enrollment numbers for the 2022-23 school year at the Frazee-Vergas School Board meeting Monday, Sept. 12.
The high school begins the year with 398 students enrolled at the high school, down 11 from 2021 (409), but up 11 from the end of the 2020-21 school year (387). There were 420 students enrolled at the beginning of the last school year.
Cell phones and electronic device usage was discussed at the August school board meeting. Those discussions were brought by Potvin back to staff to finalize rules for the student handbook for this year.
“We started the school year telling all students that cell phones are not allowed in classrooms during class time,” she said. “Headphones are not to be used unless they have permission for that.”
Students are allowed to use phones during passing time in the hallways, before and after school and in the locker room. Phones are prohibited in bathrooms and in hallways during class periods.
Homecoming week will be Sept. 26-30. Members of the student council requested to change the parade route and pep fest time, given the lack of a home football game and with hopes to include elementary students.
“We would like to have the pep fest and parade in the middle of the school day so that all the elementary kids can join and be more involved in our homecoming experience,” said student council president Kate Vigen.
The usual parade time is at 4 p.m. on Friday. The change for this year would have the parade at 2 p.m., with the pep fest preceding. Another requested change is to cancel the usual Friday dance in order to have a cookout and dance Saturday night.
The details are still being finalized and will be announced at a later time.
Later in the meeting, Potvin’s annual contract with the district as the high school’s principal was passed 4-2; Chairman Thaddeus Helmers was absent; Mike Frank and Tyler Trieglaff were the two dissenting votes.
Enrollment is up four students (445) at the elementary school from the end of 2020-21, according to principal Travis Nagel.
Hornet Academy (preschool) is full with two groups of 16 students. There is potential room for more kids who move into the district.
Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) programs for three-year-olds, the Hive and the Colony, are taking registrations, however, a teacher and a para have yet to be hired.
Karrie Schultz, who had been with the ECFE program since its inception at Frazee, retired at the end of last school year. Schultz was featured in the Forum in mid-May.
Another elementary teaching opening is a fourth through sixth grade interventionist/gifted and talented teacher.
“We are able to move forward with all the must-haves and this is an important one; it just has not come into place just yet,” Nagel said.
Nagel and Karger both reported on the completed STREAM Lab. STREAM curriculum allows students to learn vital skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration and innovation along with essential technology skills sets.
Gretchen Norby reported to the board on technology upgrades for the school year, including New BenQ interactive panels in K-6 and 13 high school classrooms.
“These take the place of a smartboard projector setup,” said Norby. “These are really cool tools. The kids can cast to them. It just makes the classroom a little more interactive.”
Other upgrades include:
• Finished installing updated sound fields in all classrooms at the high school and elementary. Better sound dispersion throughout the classroom, less strain on teacher voices and a valuable tool for our hearing impaired students.
• District Switch Upgrade. Installed new switches throughout the district to meet the network demands of chromebooks and classroom technology.
All of the above were purchased with Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER II) funds.
The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, 2021, was signed into law on December 27, 2020, and provided an additional $54.3 billion for the (ESSER II) Fund.
• New teacher machines – this is part of an established 3-year cycle for teacher machines. The old machines go to secretarial staff, lab environments and time clocks.
• Applied for Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) to replace chromebooks for 7th and 10th graders. These upgrades are awaiting approval. ECF is separate from ESSER funds.
“That would be a huge amount of money we can save the district by using that ECF,” Norby said.
The board accepted the resignation of four employees, a food service worker, ECFE/School readiness para, the one-act play director and an elementary teacher.
Thirteen recommendations for hire were approved including: former head girls basketball coach Jason Reierson as a varsity assistant on this year’s team; Dave Conzemius and Jim Jacobson as morning and after school weight room supervisors; second grade teacher Caitlin Breitenfeldt; food service workers Todd Dormanen and Linda Kuehn; paraprofessionals Jaquelyn Olcott, Bethanie Skunberg, Karin Lundgren, Sarah Wallin-Prellwitz, Suzann Bristlin, Danielle Adams and Vanessa Jager.
Future postings were approved for a health aide and a .5 social studies teacher.
The district received more than $125,000 in donations, including five large contributions for the outdoor facility enhancements:
• $50,000 BTD
• $45,000 Arvig
• $10,000 United Community Bank
• $10,000 Otter Tail Power
• $10,000 Helmers family
$500 Bruce and Jane Kunz for STREAM Lab materials.
$228.68 Thaddeus and Kristin Helmers for ECFE class supplies.
Construction is continuing on the new sports complex into the autumn. The cement pad for bleachers at the future football and track and field area have been installed. Crews are also working on the concession and restroom areas.
“You can start to see what it’s going to look like,” Karger said. “We still need to have some good weather in October to get that track surface down. So far, so good.”
The next school board meeting will be held Monday, Oct. 10. Meetings have moved back to the high school media center after spending the summer at the fire hall during construction.