Officials talk food and phones

Students may have not been in the classroom for much of the past month, due to snow days, holiday break and then more snow days delaying their return, but there was still much to discuss at Flandreau’s School Board meeting this past Monday.
Business Manager Stacey VanBeek presented to the board an opportunity she has been working on with the State of South Dakota to spend excess funds in the Food Service budget. The program is called the Universal Free Breakfast program and was approved by the board. The program will allow free breakfast to all students through the end of the year. Free lunches may also be on the horizon through the end of the school year for all students. VanBeek plans to provide an update on that next month.
What makes any of this possible is an excess of sixty thousand dollars in the Food Service budget. The budget often carries an excess amount due to the difference in what the school pays initially for student meals and what the state then reimburses the school. But the large amount of excess right now is due to the fact that free meals for students during the pandemic were reimbursed through both federal dollars and the state, so every district was reimbursed twice for student meals. Given Food Service funds cannot be spent towards anything besides the food service program, VanBeek’s proposal is to use these funds before the end of the school year. If all students take advantage of the free meals, it will still only use about $2,000 of the $60,000 available. The only other big ticket item the school might need would be a new freezer.
Also of note, a revised Electronic Communication Device Policy continues to move forward. In large part, the changes are coming as there continues to be concerns with how and where students are still found to be using their phones.
It was asked how Flandreau’s policy compares to other schools.
High School principal Kristi Fischer answered by saying Flandreau’s policy more clearly defines the consequences for violating the policy, especially if there are multiple violations.
Board member Brian Klein asked how many students have received three or four or more ongoing violations. Middle School principal Brian Relf let the board know that there are multiple repeat offenders and their parents have been notified of the situation. Relf said that if the parents still would prefer their child to have their phone while at school that the phones brought into the office in the morning and picked up at the end of the day. Fischer said only one student that she knows of has had a fourth violation, a few have had three. The board agreed the policy will stay the same and be finalized at the February board meeting.
Staff and school board members agreed that for the policy to be effective it needs to be uniformly enforced, which has been another challenge with the current policy.
The board also approved the 2023-2024 school calendar. The biggest change will be spring break. The new calendar will allow for one three day weekend and one five day weekend in March. This will replace the traditional spring break plan that has been done around state basketball and wrestling tournaments.
Elementary school principal Justin Kelm announced the 2023/2024 Kindergarten screening will take place on March 7th and 8th. He hopes that getting the word out early will help making the event a success. The elementary school will also begin standardized MAP testing next week. Relf updated the board on the results of the middle school Angel Tree fundraiser, the school was able to raise enough funds to purchase 10 gifts for children in need. The Subway students of the months were recognized and are pictured on page five of this week’s Enterprise.
Before the meeting adjourned the school board election date was approved for April 11, 2023. There are two seats open. Those held by Tom Stenger and Kelly Kontz. Petitions will be available on Friday, January 27 and will need to be returned by 5:00 pm on Friday, February 24.

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