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Menahga School Board adopts spirit wear and Pledge policy

The changes are incorporated in the 2022-23 student handbook, which they adopted at their Monday, Aug. 15 meeting.

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Menahga School District
Shannon Geisen / Park Rapids Enterprise
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The Menahga School Board is requiring the Pledge of Allegiance.

They also approved a new headgear policy, allowing “hats (baseball and winter caps)” to be worn the building, “provided they represent ‘school spirit.’”

The changes are incorporated in the 2022-23 student handbook, which they adopted at their Monday, Aug. 15 meeting.

Board member Julia Kicker made the motion to recite the Pledge during the second period every day for the high school, except for late starts and e-learning days.

Board member Katie Howard liked the administration’s recommendation to limit hats to spirit wear.

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Kicker pointed out that a vast majority of Menahga athletes are in the UNC. There are joint activities with the Panthers as well.

Superintendent Jay Kjos suggested phrasing the policy as “Menahga-affiliated spirit wear.” The policy only applies to seventh through 12th grade. The hat may not cover the ears.

The motion passed unanimously.

Lunch application incentiveOn a 4-2 vote, with Lehto and Treinen opposed, the board agreed to forgive a $40 tech fee for families who complete a lunch application form.

“We’ve done a few different things to incentivize families to fill out the application for educational benefits, which is more commonly known as the Free and Reduced Lunch form,” explained board chair Andrea Haverinen.

Lehto was opposed because she said, “It feels like a bribe.”

“The higher percentage of forms that we get in, the more people will qualify,” Kjos explained, adding that the funds the district receives from the state are exponential times two after 43% of qualified families have filled out the form. “We’re talking a lot, a lot, a lot of money we can use. It gets used for the entire population of the school to make education better for all. … It’d be nice to just have it part of the enrollment process, where everybody fills it out.”

Business manager Kyle Bergem noted it has provided $574,000 in compensatory revenues for the school.

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Treinen said he disagrees with asking all families to complete the form.

Both Kicker and Howard pointed out the revenue benefits all of the children.

The board discussed the need to help families understand the purpose and privacy of the application process.

Universal student mealsOn a 5-1 vote, with Treinen opposed, the board continued the district’s universal student meals program at no charge.

Bergem said the district is able to run this program and keep the food service funds in the black.

Kjos said, “I like the idea of feeding every student when they come in and they’re hungry for breakfast or lunch. If they’re basic needs aren’t met, kids can’t learn. I’ve seen that data firsthand in my career.”

He noted that some parents are too busy to prepare breakfast for their children, even though they can afford it.

In other business, the board did as follows:

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  • Accepted letters of resignation from Nichole Christofferson-Weston, elementary special education teacher, effective July 25; Kryston Wiseley, elementary music teacher, effective July 19; Kameron Johnson, high school teacher, effective July 27; and Lindsay Aho, junior high volleyball coach, effective Aug. 8.
  • Approved teacher contracts with Shawn Andress, high school special education, and Tanya Carney, elementary music, and Hope McAdow, interventionist, all beginning with the 2022-23 school year.
  • Created a student support coordinator position. This person will oversee student behavior; monitor attendance and truancy issues; participate in child study/IEP meetings; coordinate academic interventions; oversee post-secondary students; coordinate local and state assessments within the building; assist with scheduling needs and more.
  • Accepted West Central Telephone Association’s annual proposal for ethernet services and equipment, totalling $93,938. The Minnesota Department of Education pays a portion of this cost.
  • Approved Lindsay Shepersky as high school secretary, beginning Aug. 8.
  • Approved these extra-curricular coaches for the 2022-23 school year: Kate Hendrickson, junior high volleyball; Mackenzie Zetah and Hannah Bliss, assistant volleyball. 
  • Approved Kerry White as an instructional coach; Jennifer Schnoor as full-time cook; Sadie Sellin, Mya Claussen, Rachel Kicker and Alana Boettner as paraprofessionals.
  • Approved lane change requests for Lindsey White, Megan Porta, Molly Peterson, Cody Pulju, Joshua Roiko, Megan Huus, Chelsey Pederson, Kayla Polasek, Todd Frie and Cory Kapphahn. Kjos commented he was “pleased” with the number of master’s degrees.

The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 12. The regular meeting is 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19.

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Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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