The St. Michael-Albertville School Board reached consensus to support adding boys lacrosse as a Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) sanctioned school sport beginning in fall 2015.
The board also heard about an action proposal to implement full-day kindergarten.
St. Michael-Albertville boys lacrosse currently plays as a club team, meaning they have STMA Knights as their name but only play other clubs and not varsity high school teams.
Coach Brian Reinbold said that as more clubs switch to varsity status, that leaves fewer teams to play and longer drives. Reinbold highlighted other reasons about why the team seeks school varsity status, such as 218 percent growth in the sport during the last 10 years, and offering beneficial activity for students who can’t play other varsity sports.
Board members asked STMA Athletic Director Brian Benson about his thoughts on the club seeking varsity status. He said that in the future there would be fewer or no club programs to schedule competition.
“Making it MSHSL will make sure it continues,” he said. “(The team) has demonstrated a history and sustentation and has the numbers to continue to support the program. I do support the program.”
Club team members currently pay $325 per player, and Reinbold presented a plan for the club to play as a school sport and phase in full school funding by 2018.
Benson, Supt. Jim Behle and board members said they are not comfortable with charging “pay to play” after going to varsity status; in other words, that they would want the sport to be on equal funding status right away and not phased in. “It needs to be treated like all other sanctioned sports,” board member Jeff Lindquist said.
Board members also asked how much it would cost to fund the program, and with the typical $130 activity fee, less costs, it was estimated that the team would need $5,000 to $6,000 per year.
Now that the board agreed it does not favor lacrosse “pay to play,” board chairperson Doug Birk said the next question, “Is do we add it as a sport?”
“At some point we need to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ ” board member Drew Scherber replied.
Each board member then voiced support for adding the team. “I’m more than happy to support it,” board member Gayle Weber said. “I’m for starting it this spring or next spring (2015).”
Board member Carol Steffens added, “I’m all for keeping kids active. If not this year definitely next year.”
Birk said that while he agrees to support lacrosse, he wonders how many other activities will seek similar status. “The line stops here for me,” he said. “I think it makes a lot of sense to add this program, but I can’t see any other program in the foreseeable future.”
The board asked Supt. Behle to come up with a recommendation to add the sport for spring 2015, including a budget and final cost for the board to approve.
In other news, Curriculum Director/Primary School Principal Ann-Marie Foucault updated the board about a community plan for implementing all-day kindergarten, which was recently funded by the state legislature, beginning in 2014-15.
Foucault indicated that the primary school has adequate space to house up to seven additional sections of full-day kindergarten. There would be 4.5 kindergarten positions added, along with specialist time and instructional paraprofessionals.
The all-day kindergarten recommendation will be made to the school board Dec. 2, with approval Jan. 6. In the meantime, feedback will be solicited from teachers, administration, support staff and parents.
The district currently receives .612 per student from the state per pupil formula ($5,302 per pupil). The new legislation increases kindergarten weighting to 1.0 and the per pupil revenue to $5,382. Based on enrollment for this year of 420 students, this change would yield $877,050, Foucault said. Expenditures would be $1.081 million, less eliminating two “Climber” teachers at .75 full-time equivalent, the approximate total cost to the school district is $95,315, Foucault said.
The board’s consensus is to offer full-day kindergarten next year.
In other action, the board:
AGREED to get more information such as comparable per acreage costs before making a decision on leasing district-owned farmland to be farmed by a private party. Mark Fehn currently leases to farm the property, but Clay Montgomery said he wants an opportunity to bid for it. A decision is anticipated for the first meeting in October.