Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Use of e-cigarettes, dress code discussed


November 29, 2018

The use of e-cigarettes and the dress code were two areas of concern that the Student Council representative, Henry Collier, brought to the Barnum School Board at its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

“The student council discussed how prevalent the use of e-cigarettes (vaping) are,” said Collier. “Students are using them in the bathrooms. Some students smoke Juuls (a vapor alternative) in class.”

School Board Chair Paul Coughlin suggested that the students that observe other students using the products to use the Stop It app to report it. He also said that there has been discussion about implementing an ordinance prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in the county.

“Data shows that the use of e-cigarettes is worse that smoking cigarettes,” he said.

Collier also spoke about bathroom and hallway monitors that would stop students from using the products in the school.

“The teachers are concerned about touchy kids that would say that they are taking away their privacy,” he said.

Collier also suggested that posters could be made and displayed in various locations in the school.

“Have the kids make their own posters,” said Superintendent Dave Bottem. “That would be a good project. This is a new thing. We don’t recognize them when we see them.”

High School Principal Brian Kazmierczak reported that the county attorney’s office has a huge amount of cases and are struggling with the issue of using e-cigarettes. The fines can add up to $125, he said.

“Kids are finding places to hide the e-cigarettes where the teachers won’t find them,” he said.

Kazmierczak also reported that reports of behavior on the Stop It app are supposed to be anonymous but kids joke about the submissions on the app. The submissions are no longer anonymous.

Collier asked about enforcement of the dress code. He used an example of a student wearing a Guns and Rose t-shirt, which is prohibited.

Kazmierczak said that it is enforced and that he would attend the next student council meeting to discuss it.

A school support worker is going to interviewed, reported Kazmierczak. He said that an average of 30 students are referred to a school support worker each year.

He also reported that the results of a survey showed that the majority of the students feel that they have a good relationship with the adults in the school and know that the teachers care about them. The full survey report will be presented to the school board in December.

Elementary Principal Judi Vitito reported that the students were asked about their dream school.

“For example, some of the students answered that they would like a longer recess,” she said. “It was a neat activity. The answers are posted in the hallway of the elementary school.”

She also reported that the new playground equipment is on the horizon. There was to be a meeting on Nov. 27 to finalize and approve the latest design. The design will be brought to the school board for the final approval.

Superintendent Dave Bottem said that the cost of the equipment for the playground was $135,000, and those funds would come from a board-approved $300,000 referendum. The referendum did not need voter approval.

The replacement of equipment in the fitness center was also discussed.

In an agenda item, the cost of the new commercial equipment from Northern Fitness Solutions came to $48,353.

School Board Member Tim Peterson asked for more information about the equipment and how many bids were received.

“That’s sticker shock,” he said. “We need to look at other bids. We also should get a couple of machines a year so everything won’t go bad at once. Do we need this?”

Board Member Jessica Unkelhauser agreed.

“We cut two teachers,” she said. “And we have less than two months in financial assets. Now we are looking at spending $50,000?”

Coughlin pointed out the need for the new equipment.

“Part of what this is so that people that use the equipment won’t get injured or before the existing equipment is no longer serviceable.”

Bottem explained that the equipment in the fitness center wasn’t up to standards.

“One treadmill is not working,” he said. “Some people have donated equipment but it isn’t commercial grade. With this purchase, the company will fix and repair the equipment at no cost to us for three years. We haven’t put any money into the fitness center for a long time. We need the fitness center for the kids for their curriculum. It is also a safety issue. We will have a replacement schedule.”

Bottem added that the purchase would include machines but not free weights. He also said that another bid had been requested but there had been no reply.

Peterson asked for more bids, and suggested names of companies that Bottem could contact.

In other business, the board approved the audit report, approved the World’s Best Workforce report, and approved the 2018-2019 Indian Education Parent Committee Resolution.

The next meeting, a working school board meeting and Truth in Taxation hearing, will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 6:30 p.m.

The next monthly meeting will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 18, at 6:30 p.m.

The January working board meeting was changed to Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, at 6:30 p.m.


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