“I do not believe any child, young or old, should be victimized by anyone — family member, caretaker, friend or foe,” said Jennifer Johnson as she addressed the South Winn school board Monday night.
“I also believe that the administration, faculty and staff share this value with me. I do not believe there was any attempt to cover up any form of harassment, assault or bullying at South Winn.”
Johnson, a former school board member, addressed the room of 25-plus individuals in support of the South Winn School Board, administration, faculty, staff and students. The statement stems from charges filed by the Winneshiek County Sheriff’s Office in February against four juveniles and one adult who attend the school district.
“A school has a legal issue to not release student information whether it is academic or disciplinary,” Johnson added. “I believe the hideous situation presented to South Winn over a month ago was handled effectively and efficiently. It has shaken the school and community to its core. What presented itself as a hideous situation has now become a systemic degradation of a school district…I wish the attacks stop so that you (school board, administration, faculty, staff and students) may begin to heal and move forward.”
Following Johnson’s reading of her letter of support, she turned complete copies of the letter over to local media to be published as a “Letter to the Editor,” the full letter can be found on page A-4.

Summer projects
In new business, the school board approved a list of summer projects, including upgrading security technology at the high school.
The new security system will include 40-plus cameras, web-based control access and door-lock access by Hawkeye Communications, and should be installed and functional by fall. A portion of the high school will also be equipped with LED lighting and a false ceiling in conjunction with the security technology upgrades.
Also approved was a contract with an architect for steel roofing on the south wing of the elementary building in Ossian and 120 new Chromebooks for freshmen and fifth-grade students.

Make-up days
Winter weather interrupted 99.25 hours or 15.25 days of instruction at South Winn this year, forcing the district to look at creative ways to complete mandated hours for students and contract hours for staff.
Contracted for 191 days, teachers are experiencing difficulty meeting their obligations. Superintendent Kris Einck proposed adding 30 minutes to teachers’ days beginning Monday, March 18, through Wednesday, June 5.
“This extension to the day will allow teachers to be available to help students before and after school longer and they will be able to fulfill their contracts at noon Friday, June 7,” explained Einck.
Einck noted that he spoke with an official at the Department of Education and was informed that minutes of a lunch shift could be utilized toward total hours. Having not computed that into the equation previously, Einck found that three of the 15 lost days could be exercised as make-up time. Students will also be attending school now on Tuesday, April 23, which had previously been a day off. Those days, combined with four built-in snow days, sets South Winn’s final day of the 2018-19 school year as Tuesday, June 4, at 1:15 p.m. as of Monday’s meeting.
Board president Wendy Mihm-Herold questioned Einck on how his decision to cancel classes versus running on hard surfaces only is reached.
“It comes down to a philosophical decision. I am just a believer in wanting all the kids here. I don’t want to tell the rural kids we can’t get to you, so too bad or if you can try to get in, fine,” explained Einck. “Plus, I think from a teaching standpoint, if I have a class of 20 students and only 10 make it, I am going to try to go through a lesson for the day, knowing that 7, 8 or 9 kids aren’t there, then I am going to have to reteach that — it just isn’t fair. That is just my own thought process.”
The next regular meeting of the school board will be held Monday, April 8, at 6 p.m.