GHEC welcomes in new leadership

FAIRMONT — Two new faces were at the Granada-Huntley-East Chain School Board meeting on Tuesday: Superintendent Doug Storbeck, who has taken over for Mandy Fletcher, and the school’s new principal, Taylor Topinka.

Storbeck gave a district report, noting they have just one applicant, so far, for the new school resource officer position.

Before Storbeck became superintendent, the board approved an agreement with Martin County for a SRO. The district will pay for 66 percent of the cost while the County will pay for 33 percent. The total will be about $108,000.

Storbeck soon will meet with Martin County Chief Deputy Corey Klanderud to interview the applicant.

“We want the SRO to be here, not as an authority figure, but to be here to build a relationship with our students … and that’s going to be the focus,” Storbeck said.

He noted that several new positions, including a principal, business teacher and school resource officer have been added, and finding room for the new people is a task right now. He asked about relocating the weight room equipment to the stage so the room can be utilized as classroom space.

Board member Brad Mattson said that from what he has heard, many students go to Truman to use the weight room there.

Board members were open to the idea but want to check and make sure no teachers use the stage often for other activities.

Storbeck also said he is drafting a 100-day plan for the school and setting some goals for himself.

In other school news, activities director Erin Roiger gave a report on athletics and fine arts. She said practice for fall sports begins Aug. 12. She said six students are signed up for cross country, 13 for volleyball, 11 for football, two for soccer, 10 for grade 7-8 volleyball and 13 for junior high football.

“Cheerleading is my top contender with 17 students,” she noted.

Roiger said two assistant girls basketball coaches are needed, as well as a seventh-grade girls basketball coach. A head baseball coach is also needed.

Moving to other matters, the board heard from Joyce Madsen, a mother of several children attending the district. She expressed concerns about sports sharing. GHEC joins with other districts, including Truman and Martin Luther High School, for several sports teams.

Madsen said she has not spoken with anyone who understands how the rotation works for which district hosts different games. She expressed unhappiness with how little GHEC hosts games.

“It’s very frustrating. I understand there’s a lot of planning involved and a lack of space, but something could have been done,” said Madsen, referring to a decision that practices will be held exclusively in Truman last football season.

Jaguars head football coach Ben Senf was present and offered some background on how they decided where to hold practices, explaining that the practices used to be half and half but then GHEC’s gym was being redone several years ago, so practices could not be held there in the case of lighting. He also pointed out that Truman has a more adequate weight room with more space to store equipment.

“I’m not against or for anything,” Senf said. “I myself would like to see it in one spot. It’s easiest for us as coaches. I understand the concern about where we’re all at but we also have some kids who drive from South Branch and close to St. James.”

Roiger added that she has met with Truman’s activities director and has discussed that they will move forward with hosting practice every other year.

“We in Granada need to take care of some issues in order for that to happen. The best step moving forward was to go as planned with practice in Truman this year,” Roiger said.

Board member Bob Garry said he understands Madsen’s concerns, but a lot of the decisions are made based on the facilities, and there’s not an easy solution that can quickly be made.

“We all agree that’d we’d like to have football here if we can facilitate everything. We’re in agreement with you but it’s a matter of solving that problem,” Garry said.

In other news, the board:

o Accepted the resignation of Brianna Shriver as a paraprofessional.

o Accepted the resignation of Brittany Stindtman as a kindergarten teacher.

o Approved a contract for Emily Counter as a kindergarten teacher for the 2019-20 school year.

o Approved a contract for Rachel Erpelding as a music teacher for the 2019-20 school year.