Student safety during construction was discussed at the regular Hinckley-Finlayson School Board meeting last Monday. Superintendent Rob Prater told the board that the School Resource Officer (SRO) Zach Libra is back again this year and doing a great job. He has been working with the school on how to handle things during the construction project. Libra told the school he would like to see the school have a list of employees who will be in and out of the building.
Questions were raised about the construction workers in the building during the construction period. Prater said, "They will be badged so that everyone knows who they are and they are background checked through their company but not the school. The school has a weekly manpower meeting where they discuss how many people are in the building." According to Prater, during the summer months they didn't go into names, but now the SRO is suggesting they do that now that students are in the building. He said there will now be a list of everyone who will be in the building.
In a response to a question from School Board Chair, Kala Roberts, Prater said, "The SRO cannot handle any discipline that would normally fall to the the school. He may be in the room but the school still decides the punishment. The SRO can, however, determine if the county needs to get involved." Prater said in the three years that Libra has been there, he has taken one person into custody because he believed it was serious enough to warrant that. The SRO Â does issue citations for underage drinking and traffic violations.
Newly named Assistant High School Principal and Athletic Director Bonnie Scullard said the first week of school went well. Plans are being made for homecoming which will be held the first week of October. The only change so far is Pine River-Backus cancelled on the football game, so now the Jaguars will be playing Walker-Hackensack-Akeley instead. Scullard told the board that football numbers are down this year so they will be cutting the fourth coach as the policy states.
Hinckley-Finlayson will be hosting their first ever cross country meet on October 2 which is during homecoming. It will be held at the Grand National Golf Course. She said they are pushing for parents and fans to attend and support the team.
Cheryl Bjerke was present at the meeting to discuss truancy. She told the board the goal is to get kids in school, get them involved, make academic progress and ultimately graduate. At Hinckley Elementary last school year there were 66 students with seven or more unexcused absences which means they are habitually absent and could be turned in to social services for educational neglect. At the high school level there were 18 students with seven or more absences and 45 with 15 or more; some were family emergencies or unexcused illness.
Bjerke said she has been working with a restorative justice program, sitting down with inmates to try to get ideas on how to work with students from a different perspective. She said the last meeting was about three weeks ago, there were seven inmates, all seven of them said if things had gone better in school they probably wouldn't be there. The key is relationship building between teachers and students, said Bjerke.
Senior Class trip
There was discussion on whether or not the trip should be planned over spring break.
In Prater's report, he mentioned this would not be part of the faculty's 182-day contract, so some compensation would be expected. Student surveys have shown that approximately Â double the students would go if it were March 21-25, meaning students would miss two days of school and the district would have to hire substitute teachers to cover those chaperoning. He reported that they still had decent numbers if the trip were to be scheduled March 25-29, however, they currently do not have chaperones who are available. A couple options that were discussed at the meeting were sending a "couple" as chaperones and giving them a stipend of $600 each as that is what they would save on an extra room. Currently the teachers are compensated $605 for the planning, getting forms out and holding meetings in exchange for a free trip, air, meals hotel, but no compensation for time.
The board decided it was best to plan the trip over spring break and include a stipend.