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Mitchell Board of Education approves SDHSAA amendments, recognizes students

One amendment to help improve competition at some smaller schools

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The Mitchell Board of Education held their most recent meeting Monday, April 25.
Erik Kaufman / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL — The Mitchell Board of Education voted in favor of seven amendments from the South Dakota High School Activities Association, including one that would help level the playing field for some smaller South Dakota schools who may be facing restrictive socioeconomic factors.

The move came at the Monday, April 25 meeting of the board at the Mitchell Career & Technical Education Academy.

For the first six proposed amendments, the changes are either to bring the bylaws in line with current practice or to bring them into line with recent legislative changes, but the seventh would affect changes that would mean school districts with disproportionately larger percentages of students who qualify for free or reduced price meals to have an official count, for purposes of reclassification, smaller than their actual student environment.

That would allow those schools to compete against schools with smaller enrollments, since higher free or reduced percentages are usually associated with lower percentages of extracurricular participation, according to Joe Graves, superintendent of the Mitchell School District.

Cory Aadland, activities director for the Mitchell School District, said the change to the seventh amendment would not affect activities at Mitchell High School or any other school classified as AA in South Dakota.

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“I certainly understand those schools that are in those situations, so I support it,” Aadland told the board. “It has a very limited scope on who it affects. (It will have no effect) at all on the AA level, it’s A and B schools who would be affected.”

Under the amendment, schools with high levels of students participating in free and reduced meal programs could be allowed to reclassify to a lower lower level, such as an A school could move to compete in B level competition.

The allowance is a way to address certain socioeconomic factors that may be limiting participation in activities.

“The schools it does affect would benefit from it because of the challenges they face with those socioeconomic issues. The ones it affects it affects positively,” Aadland said.

Graves provided the following summaries of the amendments from Dan Swartos of the South Dakota High School Activities Association. The full breakdown of each amendment can be found in the agenda for the April 25 meeting of the board.

  • Amendment 1 — Corrects the amendment to current practice. The board of education and superintendent sign, not the high school principal. The Mitchell School District no longer charges a $3 entry fee to get into the membership.
  • Amendment 2 — The Mitchell Board of Education suspended all dues and fees in fiscal year 2021 and will take effect in fiscal year 2022. This just notes notes as much within the constitution.
  • Amendment 3 — This amendment removes No Child Left Behind as a reason for a hardship request for transfer because No Child Left Behind no longer exists. We did not replace it with ESSA because with the advent of distance learning, the historical reason for using this as a hardship is no longer necessary.
  • Amendment 4 — This is requiring sign off by the superintendent or CEO or board of education on Level 2 or Level 3 hardship appeals. It is also changing the composition of the Level 2 appeals committee from three random administrators to three members of our board of directors and the composition of the Level 3 appeals committee from the full board of directors to the remaining members of the board of directors who were not involved in the Level 2 appeal committee.
  • Amendment 5 — Change to reflect new alternative instruction laws.
  • Amendment 6 — The same as Amendment 5, but for middle school students participating in varsity level athletics and activities.
  • Amendment 7 — Utilizing a free/reduced lunch factor in classification.

The board approved the amendments on unanimous vote.

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Many were on hand Monday night, April 25, to take part in the Mitchell Board of Education's recognition of students and student organiztions.
Erik Kaufman / Mitchell Republic

Recognitions

Also at the meeting, the board recognized several student groups and organizations for recent successes during the 2021-22 school year.

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Those who were recognized by the board included groups such as Skills USA, HOSA, FBLA, Robotics, Culinary Arts and participants in the Mitchell Technical College welding competition.

Kevin Kenkel, vice president of the board, who headed the meeting after president Deb Olson left prior to the end of the meeting in order to tend to family business, told the Mitchell Republic following the meeting that student recognition is always one of the highlights of board meetings.

“Whenever we get to have recognitions of students, every board member enjoys that so much, because we get to see how well our students do in pursuits of their academic interests and their hobby interests, potentially,” Kenkel said. “And when they are competing against other students from across the state and moving up nationally and they do well, it just makes us all so proud.”

Personnel

The board approved the following personnel moves:

  • The new certified hires of Susan Mercer, 8th grade science teacher at Mitchell Middle School, $54,636, effective the 2022-23 school year; Mathias Day, middle school assistant track, $1,319, effective 2021-22 school year and Ashley Zimmer, assistant girls golf, $1,253, effective 2021-22 school year.
  • The new classified hire of Ronae Klein, ELA teacher at Mitchell High School and debate coach, $47,000, effective 2022-23 school year.
  • The resignation of Shantel Schrank, paraeducator at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, effective May 21.
  • The new Mitchell Technical College hire of Kaden Axsom, welding intern Level 1, $15 per hour, effective May 9.

Other business

Also at the meeting, the board:

  • Reviewed and or revision of K-12 board policies 1000-1200 on second reading.
  • Reviewed and or revision of Mitchell Technical College policy series 1000-1200 on first reading.
  • Approved the comprehensive special education plan for the Mitchell School District for the 2022-23 school year.
  • Approved the Mitchell Middle School handbook for the 2022-23 school year.
  • Heard board member reports.
  • Heard the superintendent report.

The next meeting of the Mitchell Board of Education is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, May 9 at the Mitchell Career & Technical Education Academy. The meeting is open to the public. The Mitchell Republic will livestream the meeting.

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at ekaufman@mitchellrepublic.com.
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