GHEC board hears update

GRANADA — The Granada-Huntley-East Chain School Board on Thursday received an update from special education coordinator Cheryl Hamp, who works for Southern Plains Education Cooperative.

Southern Plains provides support services to the school districts, depending on what each school needs. Each district gets its own coordinator.

“Southern Plains is a joint powers organization that was developed by five different school districts because they knew that they could provide services to kids cheaper and more efficiently in some cases if they work together, than hiring people on their own because we’re rural and we’re smaller and we don’t need full-time people for everything,” Hamp explained.

Originally, Southern Plains consisted of Blue Earth Area, Fairmont Area, Granada-Huntley-East Chain, Martin County West and Truman. After some time, United South Central joined. After this school year, Truman will depart.

Southern Plains is in the process of moving its headquarters from Winnebago to the former Lincoln School building in Fairmont. All five school districts are sharing the cost of the remodeling.

While any district can get special ed teachers from Southern Plains, GHEC has two of its own who work full time.

Hamp noted that Southern Plains provides GHEC with a nurse who comes half a day once per week, a psychologist who visits half a day per week and an adaptable physical education teacher to work with students who are physically impaired. While these professionals are scheduled to visit at a certain time each week, they are available to come more often if there is a need, Hamp explained.

Hamp attended a retreat day offsite that GHEC held in November. The gathering included some support staff, such as interventionists, to discuss GHEC’s multi-tiered systems of support, which looks at student attendance, behaviors and course work.

“It requires taking a close look at our own system to decide if we are operating and doing everything as efficiently as possible to meet all of our student’s needs,” Superintendent Mandy Fletcher said of the multi-tiered system.

She said the retreat lasted all day and those involved still had a lot to cover so they are planning to meet offsite another day in March.

In other business at the school board meeting, Fletcher said it has come to her attention that GHEC has not been efficient at following policy requiring proper documentation when a student misses school.

“We can’t accurately determine who needs attendance interventions if we’re not tracking it properly,” she said. “Our policy does say that we require written documentation when a student is gone, and if a parent calls and says their child will be gone because they’re sick, we say, ‘Great, thanks for letting us know,’ but we don’t do a very good job of following through and saying, ‘Please send a note with them tomorrow.'”

Fletcher went on to say that the school must submit a lot of data, including student attendance, to the Minnesota Department of Education, so GHEC really needs proper documentation to accurately report on attendance.

Fletcher said that on Jan. 21, the day before the start of second semester, she is going to send out a schoolwide notification that will say that GHEC is going to follow and enforce the policy.

In other news, two new board members took the oath of office. They are Ken Madsen and Brad Mattson.