By Jenna Baker
The New York Mills School Board met on Monday, July 12 for a workshop, which according to superintendent Blaine Novak, allows for the board to discuss topics more in-depth than they would be able to at the regularly scheduled monthly meetings.Various topics were on the agenda including COVID-19 wrap-up and review, budgets, strategic planning and upcoming facility needs.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is not officially declared over, updated mandates and recommendations are continuing to come out. The school board noted that while the CDC has released guidance, neither the Minnesota Department of Health or Education has yet to regarding what will be required to begin the 2021-2022 school year.
Board chair Jill Carlson explained that the school can’t go against these requirements once they are made public. The school board noted that more information should be released by these organizations in late July or early August and once that is distributed, decisions and actions will follow.
Also in regards to the pandemic, Novak noted the social, emotional and academic effects seen by both staff and students. He explained that he believes there will be a three to four year recovery period to get students back to grade level. Novak noted that while this has been a difficult time for all, it has been much harder, and will continue to be, for students on the high school end to get back up to grade level.
Overall, the board expressed extreme gratitude for the staff, students and families during the pandemic and continuing beyond.
Also discussed at the workshop was the school facility’s upcoming needs, the main focus of which was how to best create classroom space out of the area that used to be the fitness center. The goal is to get three rooms out of the space, with one to be used as either a third or fifth grade classroom and the other for special education for the 2021-22 school year.
After some discussion, the board decided they wish to move forward with adding stud wall separation rather than folding doors. An official decision will be made at the July board meeting.
The board also reviewed the last strategic planning session, which was held in 2016, and decided it is time to hold another. They are moving forward with this, hoping to get one scheduled in later winter or early spring of 2022.