SL school board contracts for mental health needs

Friday, September 24, 2021

The Storm Lake Board of Education has approved agreements with Lutheran Services in Iowa and Plains Area Mental Health for the school year. Local families were disproportionately hurt by the pandemic, with staff seeing mental health concerns among students, according to Superintendent Stacey Cole said. The Lutheran Services programming comes at no cost to the schools. The Plains Area agreement retains the two in-school therapists and this year adds a care coordinator position that may help the schools access additional programming to help troubled students.

In other school board news:

• The Storm Lake school district has approved its annual Special Education deficit request based on last year’s program. Special education in the district cost $6.1 million in 2020, and served 69 more students than in 2019. About $1.1 million was billed out to other districts that send their resident students to Storm Lake for services. A couple of teaching positions that were unable to be filled cut the program’s costs somewhat, and Medicaid funding increases also helped, leaving the district to apply for $372,300 in modified supplement state aid to cover costs. That compares to $647,000 for the previous year.

• Storm Lake schools continue to deal with an exodus of staff. At their most recent meeting, the board approved 10 resignations, including six elementary school special education assistants.

The resignations come with a variety of reasons, according to district officials, including some who simply didn’t come to work when the school year started.

• Progress is steady on the new Early Elementary School building, according to district COO Jeff Tollefsen. Some of the equipment is arriving before rooms are finished to accommodate it, so the district has rented a storage space. Once the building is secured, the equipment will be moved in.

The new school is expected to reach substantial completion in November, which would keep it on pace for opening in January to serve kindergarten classes. Future additions are planned for 1st grade and for preschool.

• Rental of two Case tractors and purchase of a used snow blower were approved to prepare for clearing snow in the coming season.