As students are finishing the school year, the school board discussed graduation, summer meals and child care, technology for next year and lessons from distance learning.

Students, teachers, staff, administration, school board members and parents were not forgotten in the added work of distance learning. Superintendent Lee Westrum made special note of the senior class of 2020, who he praised as a great and talented group of men and women.

“They’ve represented WDC very well,” Westrum said.

Westrum and middle/high school principal Tyler Church noted the plans for the May 22 graduation ceremony, including seniors in the first four rows of cars at the airport with other family members and staff behind in their cars. Students will be allowed to leave their cars to walk across the stage and pick up their diploma after their name is called over the radio. Westrum said schools in Wadena County and to the east share similar graduation plans while those to the west are not allowing students to leave their cars based on each schools’ interpretation of the Minnesota Department of Education’s graduation guidance.

“I think we’re doing everything possible to have a good crowd and attendance for our students,” Church said.

With room for 300 vehicles, Church said to pray for no rain. If there is a light rain the ceremony will happen but if there are thunderstorms the ceremony would be moved to Friday, May 29.

Students are also finishing distance learning by May 29 with elementary principal Louis Rutten and Church noting a majority of students will have their work completed by May 22 with the following week for finishing assignments and having parent-teacher conferences. Rutten said elementary students will receive progress grades for the semester. Westrum is uncertain of the school’s plans for summer school.

In surveys taken during distance learning, Rutten and Church shared how parents and students would like more online face-to-face communication. Rutten said email communication proved helpful though families might benefit from having one contact person at the school rather than several teachers per child. Church said students wanted to see their grades updated more. If distance learning is continued in the fall, Church and Rutten want to provide more routines for the students such as departments having Zoom calls on certain days.

The delivery of meals will end on May 29 and the summer breakfast and lunch meal pick up program will begin on June 2, according to Westrum. The meals are open to anyone ages 18-years-old and younger from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 2-Aug. 13 at the elementary school. People are not allowed to eat in the cafeteria.

The Kids Krew child care will also be open to all families for a charge on June 1 after being open to emergency and health care workers during distance learning. The child care was previously staffed by paraprofessionals though the next staff members will likely have fluctuating hours due to the uncertainty on the number of children attending, according to Westrum. Little Kids Club will also continue operating with both following social distancing and health guidelines.

As an update on the 2020-21 budget, Westrum said the Minnesota Legislature set the budget last year though the budgets for future years will possibly include aid shifting rather than a decrease in the budget. The school budget committee also approved proposed capital expenditure purchases for WDC’s buildings, grounds, transportation, activities and technology, such as a new bus and football scoreboard.

While the budget will be voted on at the next meeting, school board members approved the purchases of Chromebooks for $96,000 and new iPad covers and keyboards for $12,000. The Chromebooks for nine-12th grade students will replace the iPads students currently have and the iPads will be rotated into the elementary school, according to Westrum. Rutten said the new cases and keyboards help the iPads last longer.

In other actions, the board approved:

  • The paying of the district’s bills totaling $313,887.23 and bond construction bills of $8,937.90. Donations to the district were also received totaling $2,000 and donations to student activities totalled $1,200.

  • The resignations of Tracy Jack (junior high basketball) and Keith Ferris (junior high basketball).

  • The dissolution of the girls hockey cooperative with Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, Sauk Centre and Browerville school districts. The three schools will continue the cooperative without WDC since they do not currently have any girls hockey players in junior varsity or varsity.

  • Renewing the yearly membership for each of the school’s activities with the Minnesota State High School League for $3,000.

  • Moving the sale of the construction house to the June 8 school board meeting since only one bid came in for the house below the minimum bid of $55,500. The board also decided to make the date for moving the house negotiable rather than set as Aug. 14 since another build may not happen in the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The confidential employees and administrators agreements.

  • An online auction contract for Bid-2-Buy with Werner Auction Group for surplus items stored at the Deer Creek School. The contract includes $750 for marketing and a 15% sales commission. The school previously used this site to sell items after the tornado.