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School board congratulates Sebert on Exchange Club of Mitchell Student of the Year honor

Board also approves new dishwasher bid

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Sarah Sebert, a senior at Mitchell High School, was recognized at the Mitchell Board of Education meeting Monday night after she was named the Student of the Year through the Exchange Club of Mitchell.
Erik Kaufman / Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — “If you’re going to keep up with Sarah Sebert, you’re going to have to run. Because she’s going places.”

That was what Joe Childs, principal of Mitchell High School, said about Sarah Sebert, a senior at Mitchell High School who won the Student of the Year competition through the Exchange Club of Mitchell recently.

Childs made the announcement at Monday night's meeting of the Mitchell Board of Education.

“Earlier in the month of February, she was awarded a $500 scholarship from the Exchange Club of Mitchell. That was based on her GPA and her academic successes, like her score on the ACT, her countless hours of volunteering in the community and her devotion to making sure that she represents her Mitchell community well,” Childs told the board of education at the start of the meeting. “And she’s done a great job at that, as well.”

Sebert, who was in attendance at the meeting as one of two student representatives to the board of education, was honored at a breakfast by the Exchange Club of Mitchell. There, she read from her essay How Did COVID-19 Change Your Perspective on Empathy, Leadership and Service.

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Sebert was selected from among nine other students, all of whom had been named students of the month at one point during the 2021 school year.

“I was nominated by teachers and had to fill out an application and do an essay. It’s all based on academics, leadership and being involved in the school,” Sebert said.

As a local student of the year, Sebert is now qualified for district-level competition in Aberdeen. If she advances past that stage, she will be a nominee for the national-level award.

Sebert, who plans to attend Dakota Wesleyan University next year to major in athletic training and minor in business administration, said it has been a lot of hard work, but she credits her success to a drive to be heavily involved in both school and the community.

“I’ve definitely put a lot of work and hours into different activities. And I’m involved a lot. I can see what everyone at school wants and I get different input from people,” Sebert said. “I just love being involved.”

Deb Olson, chair of the Mitchell Board of Education, offered the board’s congratulations following the announcement.

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The Mitchell Board of Education held their most recent regular meeting Monday, March 14.
Erik Kaufman / Mitchell Republic

New high school certificates

During the public commentary portion of the meeting, Steve Sibson presented the board with a 14-page document outlining his position on the capital outlay certificates that the board agreed to issue at a recent meeting.

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Sibson said he believes the principal amount associated with the bonds was incorrectly calculated, and that the resulting error kept the issue from being presented to the public for a vote on the idea. He circulated a petition earlier this year to gain signatures supporting his concerns to the board, but later withdrew it and decided to pursue the issue through political channels rather than legal ones.

“What’s going on is there are two different interest rates: the coupon rate, which they can make any amount they want, and then there's the actual rate the investor is willing to receive to loan the money. When there’s a difference between the two it creates a premium,” Sibson told the Republic following the meeting.

Sibson said he would wait to see if the board made any moves on the issue at its next meeting in April, but he said he has the intention to approach Gov. Kristi Noem’s office to express his concerns about the law and, if necessary, urge her to open an investigation into schools in the state that may not be allowing their district patrons to vote on large-scale projects such as the proposed new Mitchell High School building.

“I want to see what the board does at its next meeting, and in the meantime I'm researching other districts. I’ve been tipped off about abuses in the capital outlay area with other districts,” Sibson said.

He said he believes that the governor’s office may be interested in his discoveries.

“I know the governor fairly well, and if they are abusing that statute and keeping people from voting on large projects, she will not be happy about that, I believe,” Sibson said. “That’s my assumption at this point, and I’m comfortable taking it to her office.”

The board took no action on his presentation, but Olson and Steve Culhane, business manager for the Mitchell School District, both commented on the issue with the Mitchell Republic during the circulation of the petition.

Personnel

The board approved the following personnel moves:

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  • The new certified hires of Claire Stoller, assistant track coach, $2,637 effective the 2021-22 school year; Bill Schieffen, head middle school track coach, $1,552 effective the 2021-22 school year; Cassie Auch, middle school assistant track coach, $1,477, effective the 2021-22 school year.
  • The new classified hire of Lisa Vermeulen, paraeducator, $12.83 per hour, effective Mar. 7, 2022; Jordan McKean, assistant track coach, $2,637, effective the 2021-22 school year.
  • The transfer of Lisa Fuerst, paraeducator, transferring to a new role as special education paraeducator, effective Mar. 2, 2022.
  • The leave of absence of Allison Pierson, seventh-grade English Language Arts teacher at Mitchell Middle School, effective at the end of the 2021-22 school year.
  •  The resignation of Mindy Childs, special education teacher, effective at the end of the 2021-22 school year; Jacey Jira, head seventh-grade volleyball coach at Mitchell Middle School, effective at the end of the 2021-22 school year, pending suitable replacement; Esther Witte, volleyball coach at Mitchell High School, effective at the end of the 2021-22 school year, pending a suitable replacement.
  • The retirement and early Retirement of Tammy Fuerst, Gertie Belle Rogers teacher, effective at the end of the 2021-22 school year.
  • Mitchell Technical College new hires of Haylee Radigan, welding II intern, $18.00 per hour, effective on April 1, 2022 and Andrew Rogers, welding II intern, $18.00 per hour, effective on April 1, 2022.
  • The Mitchell Technical College retirement and early retirement of Joyce Star, administrative assistant, Effective Feb. 28, 2022 and Kevin Albertz, IST instructor, effective at the end of 2021-22 school year.

Other business

Also at the meeting the board:

  • Heard board member reports.
  • Heard the superintendent's report.
  • Heard review of the school district’s report card from the superintendent. 
  • Approved the purchase of a new commercial dishwasher at L.B. Williams Elementary School. The board approved by unanimous vote the purchase price of 45,032.72 from IS Restaurant Design Equipment and Supply out of Sioux Falls.

The next meeting of the board of education will be held April 11 at Mitchell Technical College.

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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