The consent agenda for the Isle School Board regular May 20 meeting contained several resignations as well as a number of new hires. The conversation surrounding this change of staff brought forward board concerns on whether coaching positions were being given their due attention.
The consent agenda for Monday night included the resignations of both junior high softball coach Kayla Santema and junior varsity volleyball coach Thea Keil. New hires included ALC teacher Joseph Covert, junior high softball coach Julie Ulmen and industrial tech teacher Jonathan Thompson.
While discussing agenda, Board member Kate VanBuskirk asked if consideration was being given to the loss in coaching staff. Board member Jason Gallion stated he would like to see an emphasis placed on hiring teachers who could also serve as coaches. “Coaches tend to be a little more invested in students’ daily life,” Gallion said. “For obvious reasons, they are more worried about students keeping their grades up... But in addition to that, they are engaged in their students’ live longer than 7:30 to 3.”
Superintendent Dean Kapsner said candidates were asked where else they could contribute at the school during the interview process. This was not limited to coaching, but included programs like NHS, yearbook and speech as well. However, he added that the primary role of the classroom was also prioritized.
Gallion replied that he understood a candidate needing to be hired if they “stood head and shoulders above the rest,” regardless of their coaching ability. Other members of the board echoed Gallion on the importance of a coach also having a teaching relationship with the student. VanBuskirk stated her own role as basketball coach had been more difficult without also having the presence of a teacher.
Kapsner stated he would keep the boards concerns in consideration. He added that applicant pools were often limited, the school occasionally lost their best candidates. “Whether they are related directly or indirectly, the coaching and teaching shortage are the reality of the situation,” Kapsner said. “We’ve got to be grateful for what we have and make sure they have a good experience in doing it so they can continue to do it.”
Social studies teacher Jen Ernest gave the results of the spring Infinity program. While one student had dropped after the deadline, meaning their grade was counted as an F, every student participating in the program otherwise passed. This meant that the current semester of the program saw a 97 percent pass rate.
The state average for online course pass rate, Ernest said, was in the low 80s. Infinity’s own average tended to be a bit higher, Ernest noting that the program wasn’t full-time and the students stayed in the same building. Even then, Ernest added that Isle tends to stay above Infinity’s high average. “I was pretty excited when I got the rest of the grades in and saw everyone was going to pass,” she said.
Principal Jeremy Schultz said that 24 classes had been taken for college credit through the Infinity program this year, 14 of which were taken this semester.
ECMECC and committees
The board unanimously approved the district joining the ECMECC Joint Powers Agreement. Board chair Karen McQuoid would continue to serve on the MSED committee, but would shift to representing the board at ECMECC as the transition continued.
A new finance subcommittee was formed. Gallion volunteered for this position. Board members Ronni Schmidt, Amanda Strecker and VanBuskirk all expressed interest, but weren’t certain on their availability. The finance committee would work with director of finance Tara Soderstrom in preparation for the next meeting’s budget work.
• June’s regular board meeting was rescheduled to Tuesday, June 25 due to Kapsner’s availability.
• Schultz spoke positively on the results of recently concluded MCA testing, stating most students were showing growth. In particular, he highlighted the 10th grade class, where 81 percent of students met or exceeded the state average in Reading.
• Dean of students Melissa Maxwell presented on a new school improvement plan, overviewing strategies to raise the school reading and math comprehension scores. The board approved this plan.