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Dan DeVries resignation approved for end of school year

On Monday, Dec. 13 the Lennox School District Board of Education held their regular monthly meeting.

With no comments from the public, the board moved right into communication items.

Superintendent Chad Conaway began with the Superintendent’s report. He discussed COVID-19. As of Monday night there was only one case of COVID-19 in the district. He also noted that there is an 80% vaccination rate among the staff in the district. Discussion was also held regarding ESSER 3 funds.

“These ESSER funds are helping us make some long term improvements to our buildings,” said Conaway.

Discussion was also held regarding repairs at the high school following the tornado in late August. Conaway said the students should all be back in their classrooms starting in January 2022. They are currently waiting on equipment to come in.

“Every single light fixture has to be replaced, all the outlets had to be replaced along with carpet, paint and new base,” said Conaway. “All those are being done and completed.”

There are still repairs that need to be done to the roof and vertical metal paneling.

“We are going to be well into the summer before everything gets back to 100%,” said Conaway. “But the main thing is we are still offering classes and kids are getting everything they would have even before the tornado.”

Website discussion was also held. The district is looking to start a Twitter account in January with the live feed from the website being published on Twitter.

Lennox Elementary and LWC Intermediate principal Darin Eich discussed the happenings in those building. Eich said that all students will have completed their NWEA assessments by Friday. He also noted that the Intermediate student council held a food drive and recently donated over 2,000 items to The Exchange in Lennox.

Worthing Elementary principal and Curriculum Director, Kim Poppenga-Smith, said that students at Worthing should be finished with their NWEA testing on Friday as well. An art day was held at Worthing in November and was well received by the students. High School art teacher Emily Maras and four high school students led the Worthing Elementary students through a clay project.

“It was great, they learned a lot of techniques,” said Poppenga-Smith.

She also noted that students in Worthing Elementary have been holding a STEM technology event every Wednesday in December and that has been going well.

Lennox Junior High and High School principal Chad Allison said they received the NCRC (National Career Readiness Certificate) test results and while the district’s goal is to have 80% of the students earn silver, gold, or platinum this year, they had 74%. At an upcoming board meeting, Allison is hopeful to review the ACT scores taken by the students who have been involved in the ACT prep courses.

Following the communication items, the board moved into action items where they approved the resignation of Activities Director and PE teacher Dan DeVries, effective at the end of his contract.

The board also approved new volunteers and substitutes for workers’ compensation, the declaration of surplus items and appointed Scott Sandal as LAN (Legislative Action Network) member for ASBSD.

Under discussion items, the board reviewed a new work agreement with custodian Arlen Williamson.

They also had their first look at the proposed 2022-2023 school calendar. Conaway said he has run it by his teacher committee and is waiting for feedback in the first part of January.

The calendar models the 2021-22 school year calendar with the start date set for Aug. 24, 2022 and the last day of school scheduled for May 19, 2023. There are 176 student contact days with 181 teacher contracted days.

There was some concern for more teacher in-service days and Conaway would like to have them at the start of the year. They discussed possibly adding more training for teachers and taking away one student contact day. There was also discussion about a 4-day school year. The calendar will be reviewed again at an upcoming meeting.

Discussion was also held regarding softball, as the South Dakota High School Activities Association has a proposal to make it a sanctioned sport in the 2022-23 school year.

“We are one of the few states that doesn’t have softball sanctioned at the high school level,” said Activities Director Dan DeVries.

The recommendations from the SDHSAA is to have Classes A and B play in the spring with an approximate start date of March 20. There would be 30 maximum games played.

DeVries said the board would have to decide at the February meeting if Lennox has the intent to play at the State level for sanctioned softball.

DeVries said he conducted a survey of all females in the district 8th through 11th grade and all those who played softball last year. The response was underwhelming with only eight saying they would want to play and four saying they would not. Many stated that they would rather play their club sport which starts in the spring as well and you are not allowed to play club and a sanctioned school activity in South Dakota.

“I really don’t think we have the numbers,” said DeVries.

The board looked at the information and discussed the commitment.

“I think $8,000 is a good ball park,” said Conaway as to how much sanctioning the sport would cost the district. “There are, of course, some other costs but from a financial stand point I think we can make it work…will we have enough kids that will want to go out? Maybe we don’t need to worry about it as much as we are,” he added.

Board member Nick Butler said, “I feel like we offer a lot of different opportunities for kids in sports and kids who participate in sports stay out of trouble…It seems like a minimal cost to invest in something like this.”

Following the softball discussion, Allison presented a High School presentation of course offerings, internships and scholarships.

Allison pointed out the different course offerings and the different paths students can choose, including a basic diploma, advanced career diploma, advanced diploma and advanced honors diploma.

There was discussion about different classes.

Board member Melissa Daugherty asked about the CTE (Career and Technical Education) Academy in Sioux Falls.

Conaway said the district did look into that but it’s very expensive.

“What we offer is what our budget allows right now,” Conaway said.

The board would like to see course offerings that include autobody, programming, cyber security, and technology in industry.

“If we want to do some of these things, I’m not saying we can’t,” said Conaway. “But we need to figure out how we can afford some of these things. I’m not opposed to any of it. I’ll go to work finding you options and you can decide what we want to do with it.”

Allison continued with the presentation and added that job shadowing and internships are available as well. The students work directly with High School Counselor Justin Breske, who will work to find what the student is interested in. Students can earn a credit through an internship with 1/2 credit being award for 90 hours and a full credit for 180 hours. Following the presentation the board moved into executive session at 7:48 p.m.


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