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All-day preschool draws debate

The Osakis 2019-2020 preschool program came up for discussion at the Monday, Dec. 10 regular School Board meeting, when a number of citizens attended to give input and ask questions about the district's plan for next year.

The pre-school item was not on the agenda, but Board Chair Becky Hensley allowed input from the floor, and discussion with the board. The preschool topic has been referred to a committee that is headed by Elementary Principal Shad Schmidt.

Citizens attending included local daycare providers, as well as school staff, concerned about the future of the proposed all-day preschool program for next year.

Superintendent Randy Bergquist pointed out that the possibility of all-day preschool is an option. He also agreed that parents and staff need to know what the plan of action will be.

The full-time option would be just for 4-year-olds, if it is offered next year. It would not be a requirement.

Ray Euerle spoke, as a daycare provider in the community. "Do you understand what (full-day preschool's) effect will have on the daycares in town?" he asked.

Euerle said the decision will impact the daycares, as well as the community, because there will be fewer daycares. It will affect people planning to move to Osakis, because they can't find daycare. He distributed several fact sheets to the board and others present at the meeting regarding the daycare situation.

Ann Sadlemyer, another daycare provider, told the board, "If you pull four of my kids out, that will close my doors."

Board member Tom Grundman commented to those attending, "You people are providing a really needed resource for the community."

It was reported that 50 daycares were closed in the Douglas County region last year.

It is planned that a decision on the proposal to offer all day preschool for four-year-olds next year will be made at the January meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 14 at 5:30 p.m.

Other action

In other business, the board:

• Hired Jim Waldorf as a bus driver for two hours per day, at $21.78 per hour; Theresa Dirkes as a special education paraprofessional at $11.93 per hour; and Jaren Ziesmer with donated funds as a strength and conditioning coach.

• Approved the resignations of Alison Triebenbach as assistant track coach; Kirsten Wessel as head volleyball coach; and Skyler Schmidt as a paraprofessional.

• Accepted gifts of $100 from Elden's Fresh Foods and $400 from the Osakis VFW for the Close Up Program; $1,000 from the Osakis Silverstreaks Grid Iron Club for a strength and conditioning coach; and $200 from the Elementary Student Activity Fund for an author visit.

• Passed a resolution establishing combined polling places for city precincts for school district elections not held on the day of a statewide election as the Ed Pollard Community Center.

• Heard reports on World's Best Workforce, CMETS, and Runestone Ed.

• Heard a report from Principal Shad Schmidt. Deb Hoven, a local author, was to speak to the K-3 grades on Dec. 13. Dec. 21 will be an early-out for the Christmas holiday. The November Win the Day winner was Sebastian Guillette, a second grader in Mrs. Reiffenberger's class. More than 200 students were nominated, and five postcards sent home.

• Heard a report from High School Principal Tim Roggenbuck that scheduling for next year is starting.

• Heard a report from Student Representative Megan Pickert, who said the new couches and chairs in the senior lounge are nice, and people are using the TV as more of a privilege. Plans for a fun day and Snow Week are being discussed, and the second yearbook deadline is near. The students also appreciate the addition of soup back into the lunch menu.

• Heard a report from Bergquist that a project to install security film on some of the doors and windows will be completed by Christmas. People can see out, but seeing in is curtailed. Work is being done by Shaded Image of Alexandria at a cost of about $6,000.