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Joe Quintal Field construction to start in May

Construction on a project to overhaul Joe Quintal Field could begin as early as May and be ready for use by the fall, thanks to action by the Mitchell Board of Education on Monday night.

At the five-person board's regularly scheduled meeting, it unanimously approved the low bid from Dakota Land & Sod for the approximately $1.2 million project, propelling the long discussed project forward.

The estimate the board accepted from Dakota Land & Sod was $1,072,559.50 and included four alternate additions — a new shot put area, track resurfacing, the Mitchell "M" logo in the middle of the field and end zone markings.

With $134,069.94 to be added for design and supervisory fees and $10,000 for contingency, the total cost of the project surpasses the $1.2 million budget, coming in at $1,216,629.44.

Superintendent Joe Graves said administration will continue fundraising efforts — which had reached $399,750 as of Monday — to cover the outstanding balance of the project.

Other funding from the project will come from capital outlay and an agreement with Dakota Wesleyan University.

School Board Vice President Neil Putnam urged the board to be cautious of exceeding the budget for the project, and initially proposed accepting only two alternates of the project, but his motion failed when it was not seconded.

"I just want to make sure that doesn't end up being common practice," Putnam said about going over budget.

School Board President Deb Olson voiced confidence in the fundraising efforts, however, and said she is sure the remaining balance will be handled appropriately.

"I guess I'm very thankful we live in the community that we live in based on the donations we've received," Olson said. "People are very generous and very supportive and that's not something every community experiences."

Mitchell School District Activities Director Cory Aadland said construction on the project is expected to start May 8 and be completed by mid-August.

District achievements on display

Student, educator and administration achievements are abound in the Mitchell School District, a fact made evident at Monday's board meeting.

The Mitchell Board of Education spent the early portion of its meeting listening to a list of recent achievements by student Maci Kotrba, high school science teacher Julie Olson and High School Principal Joe Childs.

Childs was recently named the Region 3 High School Principal of the Year in South Dakota, and Kotrba was the winner of a University of South Dakota writing competition. Kotrba told the board she was excited about the award, and she fittingly submitted a horror story to the competition, titled the USD Frankenstein Symposium Writing Competition. Kotrba joked that she had two weeks to write the 2,500 word story but she waited until the last minute. And with encouragement from her teachers, Kotrba said she now hopes to pursue a college degree in writing or English.

"I know her teacher believes she's capable of anything she wants to achieve with writing, though she was hesitant at first," Childs told the board.

The board then took time to visit Olson's classroom to see a presentation of Olson's two new 3-D printers, purchased through a $10,000 grant she recently received.

The printers will greatly improve the quality of her classes, she said, and students are already using the technology to make objects such as headphone holders, reeds, artificial body parts and more.

Olson also broke the news to the board that she was accepted Monday for a teacher exchange program, during which she will spend two weeks teaching about environmental issues this summer in Japan.

Personnel

As part of a consent agenda that included board minutes, claims, personnel and open enrollment, the board approved the following personnel items:

• New hires: Maureen Oakley, paraprofessional educator at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, compensation of $11.86 per hour for seven hours per day, effective Feb. 26; Jacey Jira, elementary education teacher, compensation of $42,100, effective for the 2018-19 school year; Allison Cimpl, English Language Arts teacher at Mitchell Middle School, compensation of $42,100, effective for the 2018-19 school year.

• Transfers: Luke Norden from fifth-grade teacher at GBR to middle school math teacher at Mitchell Middle School, effective at the end of the 2017-18 school year; Cassey Ver Hey from fifth-grade teacher at L.B. Williams to middle school math teacher at Mitchell Middle School, effective at the end of the 2017-18 school year.

• Resignations: Amanda Christensen, fourth-grade teacher at Longfellow, effective at the end of the 2017-18 school year; Aisha Abbink, special education teacher at LBW, effective at the end of the 2017-18 school year; Amy Glesler, English Language Arts teacher at Mitchell Middle School, effective at the end of the 2017-18 school year; Stetsen Ericksen, fifth-grade teacher at Longfellow, effective at the end of the 2017-18 school year.

• Resignations and early retirement: Mary Johnson, special education instructor, effective at the end of the 2017-18 school year; Nancy Boyd, Title I and reading recovery teacher at Longfellow, effective at the end of the 2017-18 school year; Teri Determan, GBR guidance counselor, effective at the end of the 2017-18 school year.

• Mitchell Technical Institute new hires: Lisa Geraets, MTI custodian, compensation of $14.50 per hour, effective Feb. 26; Shelly Colwell, MTI custodian, compensation of $14.50 per hour, effective March 19.

Other business

In other regular business, the board:

• Heard board members' reports, during which time Putnam reported he attended the Mitchell School District Teacher of the Year ceremony. Olson attended elementary science committee review, where attendees reviewed standards and current curriculum to see where there might be deficiencies. Board member Kevin Kenkel reported that he attended a meeting at MTI concerning the combination of two medical programs.

• Heard a superintendent's report from Graves, who updated the board on happenings of the South Dakota Legislature, spring break schedules and Smarter Balance tests schedules.

• Held an executive session, pursuant to South Dakota Codified Law 1-25-2.4, for the purpose of discussing future contract negotiations. No action was taken.

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