Perham-Dent School Board members Cyndy Huber, Aaron Kalina, and Sue Von Ruden took an oath of office for their re-elected four-year school board terms via Zoom at the regular School Board meeting on Jan. 13. Arnie Thompson also took the oath of office to the board filling the two-year term that he was elected to during a special election held during the General Election in November.

At the meeting, the board reorganized for 2021. Part of the reorganization was the electing of the board’s officers for the year. With a unanimous vote from the board, Kalina was elected as the board’s new chairperson, Justine Anderson to the role of vice chairperson, Von Ruden to the role of clerk, and Huber to the role of treasurer.

The board also selected board members to serve on committees, with no changes in committee assignment from 2020. Members of the board will be serving on the following committees during 2021:

  • Support Staff Negotiations: Nathan Rooney, Thompson, and Mike Hamann.

  • Non-Union Staff Negotiations: Rooney, Thompson, and Hamann.

  • Teacher Negotiations: Von Ruden, Huber, and Kalina.

  • Transportation Negotiations: Von Ruden, Huber, Rooney.

  • Perham Area Community Center: Anderson.

  • Technology Committee: Huber, Rooney, and Kalina.

  • Facilities Committee: Von Ruden, Huber, and Rooney.

  • Policies: Kalina.

  • Delores Barnack Kenner: Von Ruden.

Other business discussed by the board:

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  • Heart of the Lakes Elementary has seen excellent attendance during the first week of full distance learning.

  • The elementary school along with Prairie Winds Middle School and the high school will be returning to the original learning model on Jan. 19, with kindergarten through sixth-grade students doing all in-person learning and seventh through 12 grade students in hybrid learning.

  • Superintendent Mitch Anderson said that seventh and eighth graders could possibly be moved to full in-person learning, depending on local COVID-19 inflection numbers, in February. The Incident Command Team will decide if the seventh and eighth grade can safely return to full in-person closer to their intended time frame.

  • New countertops and 32 touchless motion-sensor sinks have been installed in the elementary school over the winter break and time in distance learning. These new updates to the elementary school will help prevent the spread of germs and COVID-19 within the school.

  • The board approved the 2021 graduation date to be at 7 p.m. May 21. Anderson said at this time it is unknown whether the ceremony will take place in the gym as in years past or if the 2021 graduation ceremony will follow the suite of the 2020 ceremony with another drive-in ceremony. He said the graduation car parade that took place after the ceremony last year could be repeated either way and could likely become a Perham graduation tradition.

  • The board approved an extension on the Families First Coronavirus Recovery Act, which expired on Dec. 31, to March 31. This extension will allow staff members who did not use the FFCRA prior to its expiration to have an additional 80 hours of paid sick leave.

  • The next school board meeting will be Feb. 10. Depending on the local COVID-19 infection numbers, the board could return to meeting in-person at this meeting; a final decision on the meeting format will be made and announced closer to the meeting date.