School board thanks those who go the extra mile

By Emily Bialkowski
Caledonia Argus


The Caledonia School Board has begun a new program called Warrior Pride that aims to highlight some of the good things happening in the school and to say thank you to people who go the extra mile.

Certificates will be presented to individuals at the start of each school board meeting, and anyone can nominate a recipient.

On Sept. 17 the following individuals were honored: Julie O’Mara-Meyer and Scott Koepke for the leadership roles they have taken in the Bullying Task Force Committee; Chuck Schulte for volunteering his services and equipment for weeding and edging on school grounds; Tim and Cindy Colleran for taking care of a student during an away game that needed emergency medical attention.

The board meeting continued with a number of noteworthy items.


Public comment

Mike Buttell asked to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting about food portions at the middle school/high school and the athletic code.

“With the lunch program it doesn’t seem like students are getting very much. It’s nothing about the cooks – they do a great job – it’s just the quantity,” Butell said.

MS/HS Principal Paul DeMorett said entrée portion sizes are prescribed by federal guidelines.

“I have a 12-year-old that’s a girl that complained about not having enough food – just imagine a senior boy football player or wrestler,” Butell pressed.

School board member Michelle Werner expressed empathy, saying  she also wonders if her kids receive enough food for as hungry as they are.

DeMorett agreed it would be worth reviewing with the food service department but reiterated that there are many guidelines influencing such decisions.

There is an option for students to get a second helping at a cost.

The other item, absences and how they affect a student’s ability to practice or play sports, didn’t attract as much attention.

Buttell questioned the fairness of making a kid sit out from practice or games if the student was hunting.

“If we spend time hunting putting food on our table I think he should be able to go to wrestling practice that night,” Buttell said.

But the board said the policy has been in place for awhile and that it won’t likely change.

“That part is not new to this year,” DeMorett said.



The board accepted the resignation of Mark Hosch as a part time elementary kitchen helper.

In a related matter, the board unanimously agreed to hire the following persons: Bethany Meiners as a part time elementary social worker at $35,561; Tory-Kale Schultz as the National Honor Society advisor at $1,237; Megan Karr as the part time speech pathologist at $16,419; and Eileen Peterson as a part time MS/HS cook at $9.68 per hour.



The board adopted the following policies, which mostly follow Minnesota School Board Association guidelines:

• Bullying prohibition

• Internet acceptable use and safety

Board member Kelley McGraw expressed concern over recouping the cost of damaged electronic items while considering this policy. After some discussion Superintendent Ben Barton said he felt confident the policy, along with others, contain enough language to recoup costs if need be.

• Harassment and violence

• Mandated reporting of child neglect or physical or sexual abuse

• Use of peace officers and crisis teams to remove students with Individual Education Plans from school grounds

McGraw said the policy doesn’t really address how the school can partner with law enforcement. Barton said the school certainly has different guidelines and that some communication on this topic is warranted. DeMorett agreed, saying it would be important to coordinate with law enforcement.

These policies are available for review by the public on the district’s website at Click on district; school board; then online school board agendas.

The board went through a first reading of two policies – crisis management and mandated reporting of maltreatment of vulnerable adults policy. They will likely take action on the policies at their next meeting.


Administrative reports

Administrative reports were quick and described several ongoing efforts.

DeMorett said a workshop week was held for teachers and included a bullying seminar. School began and the MS/HS has already held a fire drill. Plans are underway for a lock down drill as well.

Department meetings have begun, and the assessment calendar is being considered.

Finally, homecoming week went off without a hitch, and a weekly “School Talk” article is being published in The Argus.

Nancy Runningen announced that the fall community education catalog is in circulation and registration is still being accepted for the School Age Care program.

Title I and II grants have been submitted and the district received a $3,200 Perkins grant.

Hand in Hand preschool has started and new attention is being given to the Early Childhood Family Education effort.

Barton expressed gratitude for a great start to the school year. “I couldn’t be more pleased,” he said.

He described several meetings he will be attending in the coming weeks and said work has already begun on next year’s budget.

He again warned the board about upcoming state legislation on teacher evaluations. He said the foundation has been set for principal evaluations but a lot of work awaits them on teacher appraisals.

“For teachers there’s not quite as much done in terms of having something set,” Barton said.

An agreement on how teachers and principals will be evaluated needs to be reached by next fall, according to the statute.

The next school board meeting is set for Oct. 15.

Contact Emily Bialkowski at [email protected]