Chatfield's school board convened for its organizational meeting last Tuesday, Jan. 22, electing officers and setting committee assignments for 2013.

Chairman Jerry Chase was reelected, Kathy Schellhammer is vice chair, Greg LaPlante is clerk and F. Mike Tuohy is treasurer.

Board members voted to keep their existing committee assignments, with LaPlante and Tom Sturgis serving on joint powers and community education, Chase on continuing education, Tuohy and Matt McMahon on the transportation contracts committee, Chase, McMahon and Tuohy on the staff contracts committee and Chase and Sturgis on the diversity council. LaPlante and McMahon will serve on facilities, McMahon and Schellhammer on finance, Schellhammer on Hiwatha Valley Education District and Chase and LaPlante on the high school league activities committee. Tuohy and Chase will serve as legislative liaison, Schellhammer and Chase will serve on the meet and confer committee, Sturgis and McMahon on secondary Parent Advisory Committee (PAC), Tuohy and LaPlante on elementary PAC and Tuohy on scheduling advisory for both elementary and secondary.

Student activities

Student Senate members Bailey Hilgren and Jake Eickhoff reported on student activities, noting that the student council had taken over organizing Snow Week activities since the FFA is busy this time of year with other events.

The annual mid-year celebration week included pajama day, ugly sweater day and the dance.

Additionally, Student Senate is sponsoring Pennies for Patients in a competition between grades to benefit area medical causes.

Reading Research

Elissa Johnsrud updated the board on the Reading Research remedial reading program, which just ended its first semester in the Chatfield Elementary. Students in Reading Research study a topic and create a book on that topic to enhance and enrich their reading and study skills.

She stated, "We're at the mid-year point, and we just finished with our first students. The goal is to keep them from entering special education. We've seen students' confidence increase and parent surveys have been positive. We held a writing celebration that was well attended - students were able to share their books with parents and peers."

Chase inquired as to whether the data compiled from Reading Research scores compare to Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) state testing scores and Johnsrud replied that the data is pertinent to the standardized tests.

In his report, Chatfield Superintendent Ed Harris commended Johnsrud and her colleagues for a job well done in instituting the Reading Research curriculum. "It's taken a lot of time and the staff has really put together an intensive program. I'm very pleased with it," he said.

Superintendent report

Harris went on to speak about continued efforts to upgrade the schools' interior security and safety as precaution against intruders and other threats.

"We want to advance how well the security of the interior of our buildings function if there's a threat," said Harris. "We want to let people know that we're working on the best interior safety for the staff and students and that our facilities are configured well."

He noted that a new procedural worksheet is soon to be available to staff on a section of the district's web page and that certain information would also be available to the public.

In curriculum and staff development news, he highlighted that the district is "brainstorming the big picture of the directions" the district might take in establishing a technology hardware plan for the purchase of iPads for student use.

"We want to be careful not to buy hardware just because we can. We want to do it in a purposeful way," he added.

Other business

Before adjourning, the board approved the district's annual payment of $5,000 to the city of Chatfield and Chatfield's CCTV, which records school activities and broadcasts them.

Upcoming meetings and events include an early student dismissal on Feb. 8 at 1 p.m. to allow for staff development. There will be no school on Feb. 18 in recognition of Presidents' Day and the regular school board meeting will be held on Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.

Parent-teacher conferences for kindergarten through sixth grade will be held on Feb. 19 and 21 from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. and conferences for seventh through 12th grades on Feb. 19 and 26 from 4:30 to 8 p.m.