As a new year begins and, for the Pierre School District, a new semester, “everything else continues to move on” despite the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, according to Superintendent Kelly Glodt.
During his comments at Monday evening’s regular school board meeting, Glodt thanked parents, staff, and the community for helping make the first semester successful.
“I think it was tremendously successful given all the challenges we had, so I want to thank everybody in this room for that and look forward to an even better next semester,” Glodt said.
In the Pierre School District, COVID cases have remained low for the second week since the end of winter break. As of Jan. 6, there were three student cases and two staff cases. As of Jan. 11, there are still only three student cases and two staff cases. There is one student case each in the three elementary schools, along with one staff case at Georgia Morse Middle School and one staff case at T.F. Riggs High School.
The case count is low for now, but Glodt said there are still many unknowns.
“You look at South Dakota and Hughes County and our school district, the numbers are certainly trending in the right direction. But you look around the county, and that’s not the case everywhere, so what’s coming next, who’s to say,” Glodt said.
He mentioned that people keep asking about outside groups using the school district’s facilities, adding that school buildings are still locked down and the district will continue to restrict outside visitors. Glodt thanked everyone for their patience and said he hoped they will be able to open the use of their buildings and gymnasiums for public use again soon.
“Other than that, all the other workings of the school district continue to move on, whether it be the adoption of our next curriculum and...as crazy as it sounds, we have a full administrative team meeting later this week [when] we already start talking about next year,” Glodt said.
COVID cases in K-12 schools statewide continue to drop, with 178 new cases reported for the week of Jan. 3-9: 80 fewer than the week before, according to data from the South Dakota Department of Health. That brings the total number of cases to 9,933, 238 of which are active infections. There are 45 fewer active cases for the week of Jan. 3-9. Of the total cases, 7,414 are among students and 2,519 are among staff members. There are 20 more schools with no active cases— 761 as of Jan. 11. One hundred and six schools have one or two active cases and 20 schools have three or more.
Conversely, within South Dakota’s higher education system, new cases are increasing slightly. For the week of Jan. 3-9, 58 new infections were reported; 13 more than the prior week. There are now 3,279 total cases among colleges, universities, and technical schools in the state, and 63 are active infections — 10 more than the week before. Of the total cases, 2,806 are among students and 473 are among staff. Four schools have no active cases, five have one or two, and six have three or more.
Also during Monday night’s meeting, the Pierre school board also approved the date for the joint election with the city of Pierre. The election for both entities will be held June 8. Two board members, Randy Hartmann and Dennis James, are up for re-election and both said they are seeking another term. If elected, it will be for Hartmann’s fourth term and James’ fifth. If more than two candidates file, the election will become necessary.
Glodt noted the school board’s consistency as positives, and thanked both Hartmann and James for their work thus far on the board.
Additionally, Business Manager Darla Mayer went through the district’s audit report for the 2019-2020 school year. Conducted in November, Mayer said there were no audit findings for the year. The district also received an unmodified opinion, which according to Mayer is the most favorable opinion that can be issued on a financial statement.
“That means that our financial statements...present fairly in all material respects the financial position of the school district. They found no material weaknesses or deficiencies, and no instances of non compliance material to the financial statements were disclosed,” Mayer said.
“It’s comforting knowing that this is how our audit is going to turn out each year,” Glodt said of Mayer’s capability.
Board members unanimously approved the presentation of the report.
Board members also discussed the success of last week’s forum with the District 24 legislators — Senator Mary Duvall, along with Representatives Mike Weisgram and Will Mortenson. Glodt said the meeting was “tremendous” and that it was one of the best legislative forums the board has ever had.
Board President Dan Cronin said he was impressed by the new representative’s eagerness to learn and get involved with the school district. Hartmann also noted the representatives’ eagerness to learn and they were receptive to the presentation. Mortenson is on the House education committee, which Hartmann noted would be a “plus” for the district.