The Watertown-Mayer School Board performed a pair of policy reads at its meeting on Jan. 22 regarding both sexual harassment and library materials after considering, and in some places adopting, changes put forth by state legislature.
The policy changes establish the parameters around library material selection and define the specific factors that those at the school cannot be harassed for.
At the meeting, the school board unanimously approved a second and final read of its district’s library materials policy, which now includes changes based on Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA) recommendations.
One of the updates to the policy emphasizes that the purpose of library materials is to broaden and complement the school’s curriculum and cater to the diverse interests and needs of individual students.
The policy also says that while a trained library media specialist will be responsible for the material selection process, the school board retains the ultimate authority over the selection of library materials.
A later section of the policy states several objectives that will be used to ensure that media center materials remain an important part of the educational program.
One of the objectives that saw updates states that the district will “place principle above personal opinion and reason above prejudice to ensure a comprehensive and inclusive media collection that caters to all users.”
The policy intends to ensure that library materials are chosen carefully and that they enrich and support the curriculum while fostering a love of reading by catering to the diverse needs and interests of individual students.
The policy allows parents or guardians to submit a written request to restrict their child’s access to specific library materials if they feel it is necessary, and the school shall make reasonable efforts to accommodate the request.
The requests, however, will not result in the removal of specific library materials from the library or any restriction upon any other student accessing those materials.
Parents of school district students may request reconsideration of specific library material based on the basis of appropriateness concerns, and the review process is extensive and thorough.
The school board also performed the first read of its harassment and violence policy, which lists several factors for which those at the school cannot be harassed.
The current language states the district “aims to maintain a learning and working environment that is free from harassment and violence on the basis of several factors,” and some of these include race, religion, sex, age, familial status, and sexual orientation.
Last summer, the definition of sexual orientation saw changes under the Human Rights Act.
With that change, the state legislature has given school boards the option to amend the language in their harassment policies where sexual orientation is mentioned by adding the phrase “including gender identity or expression” next to it.
Board Member Katy Jo Danielson, a member of the district’s policy committee, said that the committee felt it would be redundant to include the new language because sexual orientation is already defined in a later section of the same policy.
The board unanimously approved the first read of the policy without any updates to the language used. A second review of the policy will occur at next month’s meeting.
The board also approved the first and only read of several policies that saw non-substantive updates to comply with changes in state statutes.
To see all of the district’s policies, visit its website at www.wm.k12.mn.us/about-us/school-board.
Parking lot projects
The board unanimously approved the awarding of bids to two companies for two different scopes of work to be performed in the district.
The first area of work involves earthwork and improvements to parking lots in the district, and this bid was awarded to New Look Contracting. The improvements will include paving the high school parking lot section that is currently dirt.
The total cost of the work will be $3,160,000
The second area of work involves electrical lighting improvements, and this bid was awarded to Killmer Electric Co., Inc. The total cost of this work will be $302,700.
The total cost of both projects will be $3,462,700.
The board said these bids were favorable to the district and below the budget it had set for the projects.
The board unanimously approved the acceptance of several donations to the school’s robotics program to be used for robotics supplies. The donations are as follows:
• Wilson Development donated $1,000
• CorTrust Bank donated $150.00
• Laura Glasgow donated $500.00
• Neaton Brothers Erosion donated $250.00
• Scott Wakefield donated $250.00
• Mike DeNomme Construction donated $1000.00
The district also received a donation from Trinity Lutheran Church for $32.19, which will be used for Royals Room purchase needs.