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Field turf, funding top list of priorities for Mitchell Board of Education in 2018

As 2018 kicks off, members of the MItchell Board of Education are eager to get to work for the remaining half of the school year. A top priority for many board members is the completion of the artificial turf surface and a new track at Joe Quinta...

School supply photo illustration. (Matt Gade/Republic)
School supply photo illustration. (Matt Gade/Republic)

As 2018 kicks off, members of the MItchell Board of Education are eager to get to work for the remaining half of the school year.

A top priority for many board members is the completion of the artificial turf surface and a new track at Joe Quintal Field. Board President Deb Olson said it is more of an "immediate goal," which includes securing the remaining funds for the $1.2 million project.

"I think the end is in sight," Olson said, adding that the work can be attributed to Superintendent Joe Graves and Activities Director Cory Aadland. "I think that we're well on our way."

The artificial turf installation is a part of the Mitchell School District's annual goals set at the beginning of the school year. And it's these goals that are on the mind of Board Vice President Neil Putnam, who said he frequently revisists the 2017-18 district's goals to see how much progress is being made.

Putnam added that his role as a director of the western region for the National School Boards Association has led him to watch how federal government plans will trickle down into the local school districts. Specifically, Putnam is keeping an eye on the Every Student Succeeds Act and how South Dakota will implement it through school districts.

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"I'm involved somewhat in federal issues to see what effect they may have in South Dakota, and obviously the Mitchell School District, as well," Putnam said, adding that title funding and child nutrition are also important topics to follow. "So those are some of the things I'll be taking the opportunity to watch."

But one of the nagging issues the board members agree they'll face is funding. Putnam said the five-person board anticipates a "pretty tight year" financially from the state and federal government, and they are all well aware of the limitations that may soon be coming.

Once the South Dakota legislative session kicks off next week and a clearer picture takes shape, Putnam said the board will figure out how to deal with funding issues and if goals should change.

"Our goal will be how to best use our resources with the obviously limited amounts of funding," Olson said. "That's definitely one."

Board Member Matt Christiansen agreed.

"We have less money coming in and we have to be careful with where that goes," Christiansen said. "And we need to make sure most essential things are covered."

Christiansen added that the school district has "really good" momentum, which limits his concerns for budget prioritizing.

But one issue for 2018 is clear for all three board members: students remain a top priority.

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"Our primary focus is always making sure we have the best teachers for our students and making sure we have resources they need," Christiansen said.

Related Topics: EDUCATIONSCHOOL BOARD
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