The Northland school board began their first meeting of 2023 Wed., Jan. 18 by hearing from a concerned citizen, Jen Kovall concerning the high school gym. Kovall stated she has heard from many area residents that the gym does not have a hometown “feel” and wondered why the banners have not been moved from the elementary gym to the high school gym yet. Kovall stated she was part of the discussion when the school was being constructed, five years ago, on the needs of the gym and feels the high school gym needs to have all of the memorabilia hung. Kovall mentioned she was one of a group of people that painted and “decorated” the old high school gym, which is the current elementary gym, and mentioned she could organize another group of people to paint and hang banners in the current high school gym. This proposal was made to label sections for visitors, students, possibly pep band and an Eagles Nest, from Kovall, all she asked was for the district to provide paint. 

   Board chair Marc Ruyak mentioned when he attended a recent game in the elementary gym he too wondered why the banners hadn’t been moved to the high school gym. Ruyak asked Janessa Green, Athletic Director, if this was on a list of items to be completed and what the time line  was to be completed. Green stated it is on the list of things to do but hasn’t been a priority. There was discussion later in the meeting to make this a priority with the Administrator’s coming back to the board at the next work session or meeting with a time line for completion.

   Green also shared her monthly athletic director and elementary principal report. During the athletic director report she reported that the girls basketball team is 2-10 and the boys team is 10-1. She also mentioned the school is once again doing the “Feed 2 Win” program which is run by volunteers and completely funded by donations. This program has volunteers preparing a meal, usually soup and sandwiches, and serving students that utilize the after-school enrichment program and players from both the home and visiting teams. Green mentioned she has received positive feedback from visiting teams that they are very appreciative of receiving this meal.

   During Green’s elementary principal report she highlighted that the second graders have been learning and shared PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports) statistics stating they are not quite where they would like to be with the pyramid by having 83% with  0-1 referrals, 13% with 2-5 referrals and 5% with over 6 referrals. The goal is to have 90% of the students to have 0-1 referral.

   Superintendent Mary Yakibchuk gave an update of the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) program and shared why administration decided to implement STEAM instead of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) or a traditional music program for elementary students. Yakibchuk stated the decision was made to eliminate a traditional music program due to lack of interest from elementary students and an increase of behavioral issues. Coupled with an increase in interest from students in science and technology, plus in looking at the previous years MCA scores for science, it seemed to be a good move for the district to offer STEAM.

   The main reason for STEAM Yakibchuk mentioned was to add in art due to the importance of the Christmas program to the community. She stated even though elementary students already have an art class the “A” in STEAM really was to stand for performing arts. 

   In other Board action:

   • Heard an update on the trophy case from Principal Mark Motherway.

   • Approved the hire of a long-term sub for Language Arts.

   • Approved a resolution directing administrators to make recommendations for reductions in programs and positions.

   • Approved a 3.0 Administration model for 2023-2024 and continue to pay Yakibchuk her stipend along with the 2% yearly increase.

   The board has scheduled the following meetings: A work session, Wed., Feb. 1 at 5:30 p.m. and the  regular meeting, Wed. Feb. 15 at 5:30 p.m. all meetings are held at Northland High School.