Out-of-town Prom guests allowed after all

School Board
By: 
Pete Temple
Express Associate Editor

     As plans are being made for a 2021 Prom and Post-Prom April 17, one sticking point between the Monticello Community School District and MHS students and parents has been resolved.

     Original plans stated that out-of-town guests would not be allowed at the MHS prom on the recommendation of Jones County Public Health, due to COVID-19 concerns.

     But two parents spoke out against the policy during a work session of the Monticello School Board March 10, and board members seemed to go along with their sentiment.

     On Friday, MHS Principal Joan Young sent out a letter to juniors and seniors, outlining Prom procedures for them and for out-of-town guests. And on Monday, Superintendent Brian Jaeger confirmed that out-of-town guests will be admitted.

     Unlike a year ago, when Prom was cancelled as the nation was in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, MHS is planning to have Prom this year. It is scheduled for Saturday, April 17, with the dance being held at the Citizens State Bank Youth Development Center and Post Prom to be back at the high school.

     The only restriction in place is that participants will be required to wear masks. It is considered a junior-senior event, but a freshman or sophomore could attend as the guest of a junior or senior.

     Two parents of MHS seniors, Carrie Fellinger and Emily Recker, attended the Monticello School Board work session March 10 to question the out-of-town guest ban in hopes of getting it overturned.

     Fellinger, the Post Prom president, said she questions why students couldn’t bring out-of-town dates to Prom, even though restrictions were gradually eased during this past winter sports season.

     “We’re saying, ‘No, you’re from another school, you can’t come in,’ ” Fellinger said. “And yet we let anybody come in for a sporting event.”

     Recker said such a rule might hurt attendance at Prom. She cited a survey of juniors and seniors that was sent out last week. Of the 70 responses, 54 percent said they wouldn’t attend if the school does not allow out-of-town guests.

     “I’m just afraid if you (stick to) the whole out-of-town guest thing, there are going to be a lot of kids that are not going to come,” Recker said.

     Board member John Schlarmann also sided with the parents.

     “These (MHS) kids date these (out-of-town) people,” Schlarmann said, “and they’re with them almost as much as they’re with family. I don’t see a problem with it. You don’t always do what people recommend. You can tweak it to your situation.”

     A meeting between administrators, teachers and the Post Prom committee March 12 led to the decision to allow out-of-town guests to attend.

In other board business:

     • District business manager Marcy Gillmore gave a budget presentation to the board, reviewing the ways the budget is calculated, and stating that the board will have decisions to make about the property tax levy rate for fiscal year 2022. The board seemed split on whether to place $100,000, $50,000 or no money in the management fund, resulting in a levy rate that is $14.42 per $1,000 valuation at the high end, and $14.16 at the low end.

     In a timeline presented by Jaeger later in the meeting, the superintendent stated that a public hearing would be held on the budget at the March 29 regular meeting, after which the budget would be up for final approval.

     • The board approved the bid of CDW for the purchase of 250 HP Chromebooks, at a cost of $71,250, at the recommendation of Director of Technology Curt Tauke.

     Each year, the district replaces about one-third of the Chromebooks used by students throughout the district, saving the district from having to purchase them all at once.

     • The board heard a presentation from Raki Giannakouros of Blue Sky Solar about the prospects of solar power for the district. The idea is in the early discussion phase, and has not been finalized or approved by the board.

     Coming out of the 55-minute discussion was Jaeger’s suggestion that Giannakouros bring back a design plan that increases the solar power capabilities above previously-discussed plans.

     • The board also approved the following personnel items:

     Appointments: Daniel Pike as assistant varsity track coach, and Todd Norton as eighth-grade English/language arts teacher.

     Transfer: English/language arts teacher Brittany Ahrendsen from eighth-grade to seventh-grade.

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