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School board approves fundraising policy to 'stay ahead' of potential violations

The Mitchell Board of Education approved a new crowdfunding policy to "stay ahead." During their regularly scheduled meeting, held Monday at Mitchell Middle School, the board approved new policy 747, on first reading, for crowdfunding and employe...

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The Mitchell Board of Education approved a new crowdfunding policy to "stay ahead."

During their regularly scheduled meeting, held Monday at Mitchell Middle School, the board approved new policy 747, on first reading, for crowdfunding and employee fundraising for school purposes. Crowdfunding occurs when someone, such as a teacher or employee of the school district, uses sites such as GoFundMe.com and DonorsChoose.org to raise money for supplies or other needs in the classroom.

These fundraising methods are allowed in the Mitchell School District, but to avoid "certain pitfalls," the policy was put into place.

The policy requires that employees should gain pre-approval of their building before undergoing the funding request. It also requires employees to make their request clear about the eventual ownership of items purchased with funds received through crowdfunding, as this can impact income tax considerations for donors.

Some other schools that have used the crowdfunding sites have had issues violating the Family Education Rights and Protections Act (FERPA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). One example mentioned was when a teacher from a South Carolina school district used a picture of her students who have autism. By posting the picture and referring to the disabilities, it violated FERPA unless the teacher obtained specific written parental consent for all students for disclosure.

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This is just one instance provided at the school board meeting in which teachers could unintentionally violate FERPA or IDEA with the post.

"Nobody has the right to violate FERPA ..." Graves said to board members. "The goal would really be not to have anybody violate FERPA."

This would have been an illegal act, and it is what the board wanted to help avoid.

Graves made it clear that this policy is not to discourage employees from using the crowdfunding sites, since this act "has been a real boon to a number of our programs."

"I think this overall was a good idea and I applaud you for it and coming up with something and trying to get ahead of this," said board member Kevin Kenkel.

The school board also approved revisions made to policy 544 entitled the "Wellness Policy," to better comply with the National School Lunch Program regulations.

New provisions included requiring all fundraising in the school be reviewed and then approved in advance by the school principal or director of food services.

The revisions will also not allow external groups, such as the Girl Scouts or non-school-sponsored sports, to fundraise through the sale of food products in school buildings during any part of the school day unless first gaining approval from a principal of the building.

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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): William Oyen, maintenance for K-12, compensation of $14.75 per hour for eight hours per day, effective Sept. 16; Kathy Eggers, food service at Mitchell Senior High School, compensation of $11 per hour for four hours per day, effective Oct. 10; Betty Lou Anderson, general food service at all buildings, compensation of $11 per hour for 5.5 hours per day, effective Oct. 3; Shelly Double, paraeducator at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, compensation of $10.62 per hour for 7 hours per day, effective Oct. 17.

● Transfer (classified): Linda Geidel, four hours in serving line to 5.5 hours in the salad bar area of the senior high, effective Sept. 29.

● MTI New Hires: Greg VonWald, SDLA adjunct instructor, compensation of $50 per hour for 64 hours for $3,200, effective fall 2016 semester; Joseph Thornell, SdLA adjunct instructor, compensation of $50 per hour for 120 hours for $6,000, effective fall 2016 semester.

● MTI Substitute pay increase: Pay increase from $15 to $20 per hour.

● MTI Workstudy pay increase: Pay increase from $8.55 to $9 per hour.

Other business

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In other regular business, the board:

• Recognized the Mitchell Art Department, which took home several blue ribbon awards at the South Dakota State Fair and was a first place winner in AA Division. Artwork, including paintings, fabric art, photographer, dream catchers, mosaics and sculptures, were presented to board members to view and then applaud students in attendance.

• Approved the budget supplement for salaries and benefits at Mitchell Technical Institute, totaling $873,183.52. This budget supplement, a budget increase for Fund 23, is needed to reflect increase in salary and benefits for instructional employees. The source of the money will be from state sales tax increase.

• Entered into executive session for the purpose of "consulting with legal counsel or reviewing communications from legal counsel about proposed or pending litigation or contractual matters." No action was taken.

• Discussed the superintendent evaluation form. Instead of taking action, the board has chosen to wait so changes can be finalized and approved at the next meeting. For more than 20 years, the same instrument is used to evaluate the superintendent of each school district, and in the recent joint conference of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota (ASBSD) and the School Administrators of South Dakota (SASD), discussion of updating this process took place. One suggestion was to have Graves fill out a self-evaluation form, on top of the forms filled out by board members and administrators.

• Heard a superintendent's report.

• Heard board reports.

• Heard public commentary.

• Took a tour the Middle School and then Performing Arts Center construction site, which will be finished over Winter Break.

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