Agar-Blunt-Onida School Board members. Back: Megan Jaeger, Kimberley Farries, Cheri Wittler, Melani Paiz; Front: Tory Smith, Bob Graff, and Jeff Todd.

During their regular July 8 meeting, the Agar-Blunt-Onida School Board organized for the year, electing Bob Graff President and Jeff Todd Vice President. Committee assignments were also made. Elementary principal Amber Mikkelsen was present, and board members introduced themselves to the new administrator. The board adopted student handbooks with revisions, adopted the district policy manual, and made changes to the open lunch policy.

Significant time was spent in addressing student absenteeism, and ultimately, a policy developed by a team of Sully Buttes teachers was adopted.

Under the new policy, students will be allowed a maximum of eight absences per class per semester without penalty, after which students will have their grades docked. The new policy also requires students to use a make-up sheet to document their missing work when returning from an absence. The attendance policy applies to all ABO students.

Additional changes to the secondary student handbook include forbidding having personal electronic devices on their person during school; adoption of the Board of Regents graduation track with the expectation that as freshmen, students will enroll in the Advanced Endorsement tract; and a more stringent ICU policy.

In addition to the changed attendance policy, the elementary student handbook now requires that students be dressed for the weather before joining in recess playground activities.

The board also restricted the district’s open lunch policy. Only students in grades 9-12 are eligible to eat off campus with parent permission. If a student in grades K-8 is to leave school for lunch, they must be picked up by their parent.

In advance of the regular meeting, the board heard the FY2019-2020 budget for the district. ABO Superintendent Kevin Pickner related that for taxes payable in 2020, levies have decreased $.25 per $1,000 in valuation while valuations have increased 3%. The district expects to receive a total of $2,435,543 generated in local taxes for the fiscal year, $1,196,646 in November 2019, and $1,238,897 in May 2020. These figures are above state need by a total of $677,014, so the district will receive no funding from the state.

Pickner also reviewed progress made on summer projects. New carpet and blinds have been installed in the library. Painting has been completed in the Blunt elementary and is near completion in the Onida gym and in bathrooms. The door projects will be completed in mid-July. Work on the bathroom project at the Onida elementary is progressing. Due to shortcomings in the fire alarm system discovered during the summer work, a smart system will be installed.

In other business, the board discussed refinancing capital outlay certificates should interest rates go down; designated official depositories; designated the Onida Watchman the official legal newspaper; designated Samuel Kerr school attorney; set the date for the annual school board election as April 14, 2020; authorized participation in state associations, the ASBSD and SDUSA; approved the travel reimbursement schedule; designated the second Monday of each month as the regular school board meeting; designated the superintendent and business manager as purchasing agents for the district and authorized representatives for federal programs and grant applications; increased the board compensation rate from $75 per meeting to $100 per meeting; authorized advertising for bids; approved the section 125 cafeteria plan; designated the superintendent as district compliance officer; designated the Sully County Sheriff as truancy officer; approved rates for substitutes and transportation; approved school lunch prices, which increased ten cents; and approved admission gate prices for activities with cost increases for adult and family year passes.