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Booster club to host 'Kernel Bowl'

Mitchell will host its first "Kernel Bowl" this fall, thanks to an effort by a local booster club to create the event. The event is scheduled for Aug. 27, a Saturday, which is the Kernels' first home football game against Harrisburg, and will be ...

Mitchell will host its first "Kernel Bowl" this fall, thanks to an effort by a local booster club to create the event.

The event is scheduled for Aug. 27, a Saturday, which is the Kernels' first home football game against Harrisburg, and will be sponsored by the Mitchell Athletic Booster Club Kernel Bowl Committee members.

Geoff Gross, activities director for the Mitchell School District, and members of the Mitchell Athletic Booster Club presented a proposal for the event to the Mitchell Board of Education members during a regular meeting Monday at the Mitchell Career and Technical Education Academy.

Gross compared the event to the Tiger Bowl in Harrisburg or Dakota Bowl in Sioux Falls, noting those are successful events that generate money.

"We've been kicking this around for several years in various forms," Gross said.

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For the event, booster club members would take over handling the day's events-ticket sales, supplying workers, paying officials, etc.-and use the event as a fundraiser for the club.

Kristi Soukup, one of the booster club members who spoke to the board, said things are still being decided, but right now event organizers hope to have a 5K run on the morning of Aug. 27 followed by the home cross country meet, and possibly events like boys and girls three-on-three basketball and activities for children and families. That would culminate with a feed or supper for the community before the football game.

Booster club members said the idea is to create a day of events that brings different activities together. Eventually, they said they would like to line up more home events to fall on the same day, to showcase as many of the fall sports and activities like marching band as possible.

"Just something to pull the community together to kick off the football season," Soukup said.

Board members responded positively to the idea, and unanimously approved the proposal.

"To me, it's a very exciting proposal," Superintendent Joe Graves said.

Governor's plan endorsed

School board members also approved a resolution expressing formal support for the Blue Ribbon Task Force's plan to increase teacher pay in South Dakota.

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Graves said the resolution was created by the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, and several school boards have adopted the resolution to "make it clear to local legislators how they feel."

Gov. Dennis Daugaard appointed the task force to examine the issue of teacher pay in South Dakota, which ranks lowest in the nation. In response to the task force's findings, Daugaard has proposed a half-cent sales tax increase to help raise teacher pay, but his plan needs two-thirds approval in both the House and the Senate.

To fund his plan, Daugaard proposed a half-cent increase in the state sales tax from 4 percent to 4.5 percent. That would generate $107.4 million, $67.4 million of which would go toward schools to boost teacher pay. The remaining $40 million would be used for property tax relief, according to Daugaard. The new formula sets a target statewide average salary of $48,500.

Graves outlined how the new funding formula would affect Mitchell; in particular, he said the governor's proposal essentially eliminates the pension levy, which the Mitchell School District does use.

"We would lose our pension levy, but we'd be more than compensated for that by the overall dollars," Graves said.

He cited widespread public support to increase teacher pay in South Dakota, and said while no compromise is perfect, he sees the proposed legislation as a win for educators and school districts.

"Overall, it's a great plan to finally get us in a position where our teachers receive a more competitive salary for the region," he said.

House Bill 1182 made it out of the House Committee on Appropriations on Monday, and could be debated on the House floor Wednesday.

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Superintendent contract renewed

Graves will retain his position as superintendent of schools for another three years. Board members held an executive session during Monday's meeting to evaluate Graves as superintendent, as allowed by South Dakota law that says an executive session-which is closed to the public-may be held for "discussing the qualifications, competence, performance, character or fitness of any public officer or employee or prospective public officer or employee.

After exiting the executive session, board members unanimously voted to offer a new three-year contract to Graves.

Personnel

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

• New hire (classified): Lee Bruguier, Mitchell Middle School food service manager at $13.75 per hour for eight hours per day, effective Jan. 20; and Alisha Lockhart, competitive cheer coach at $4,339, effective Aug. 1.

• Early retirement/resignation: Mary Marchand, Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary teacher, effective end of 2015-16 school year; Larry Larson, middle school social studies teacher, effective end of 2015-16 school year; Patricia VerSteeg, L.B. Williams Elementary teacher, effective end of 2015-16 school year; Joan Pfaff, first and second grade at Gertie Belle, effective end of 2015-16 school year; Lacey Eidem, L.B. Williams art teacher, effective end of 2015-16 school year; and Ron Clough, middle school librarian assistant, effective end of 2015-16 school year.

• Transfer: Skyler Heyden, middle school track coach at $1,243; and Jack Musser, assistant track coach to head middle school track coach at $1,974.

• Mitchell Technical Institute new hire: Brook Pitz, IT intern at $10 per hour, fewer than 15 hours per week.

• MTI resignation: Terry Bush, MTI technician, effective Feb. 19.

Other business

In other regularly scheduled business, the board:

• Recognized Tricia Neugebauer as the recipient of the 2016 Kelly Lane Earth and Space Science Grant; and Julie Olson as the 2016 recipient of the Robert E. Yager award and co-presenter at two sessions at the National Science Teachers Association Convention in March in Nashville, Tennessee.

• Approved the K-12 academic calendar for the 2016-17 school year. School will start on Aug. 24 in the fall, then break for Christmas from Dec. 23 to Jan. 2. The spring semester will start on Jan. 3, and the last day of school will be May 25, 2017.

• Heard reports from board members and the superintendent and provided time for public commentary.

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