At Monday's regular school board meeting, a host of local parents voiced their frustration with the usage of the event center in regards to open gym on Sunday.

Currently, open gym is being held inside the Northside Gym, where there is a limited amount of space and basketball hoops for there to be used by those interested in open gym. Two weeks ago, 43 kids showed up, and younger kids were pushed into the second gym at Northside.

Parents wondered why the event center, which has ample space and the potential for more than just basketball to be played, was not open for kids.

"I think we need to utilize this, we built it for our community," said Jason Monnens.

Activities Director Les Zellmann brought up concerns over whether the wrestling room or the weight room would be open and safe for use. 

"Some of the variables that come into play are whether the wrestling room would be open or the weight room would be open," said Zellmann. "Then you get into some supervision components."

Zellmann also noted that open gym is for volleyball and other gym activities, not just basketball, so floor space may become a conflict.

Zellmann, however, was open to the idea of moving open gym to the event center.

Board member Scott Runge spoke to custodians at the schools who said they would rather have the event center be used, citing those who use the open gym are respectful of the floors and wear gym shoes.

"We want these kids active and we want someplace for them to go," said Monnens.

In addition to moving open gym to the event center, the school board also motioned to extend the open gym from January to April to November to April.

Following the discussion, during Principal Karla Beck's report of the high school, questions were brought up over the school's policy on assault and violence, stemming from a recent incident.

Comparing the policies of the MSHSL and high school were also brought up.

The student was given a punishment through the school but supposedly did not violate an MSHSL rule. The student was still able to compete in athletics.

High school health teacher Steve Chapin urged Beck to change the school's policy regarding violence in the school.

"Don't wait until next year to look at this. We have another season coming up and you can change it before the spring. Don't wait. This is a no-brainer."

Les Zellmann also provided an update on the varsity football schedule. In December, Zellmann and the football program decided to attempt to carry out a plan to play a partial varsity schedule.

Zellmann recently met with the district in regard to the proposal for the partial schedule.

The district voted against a partial varsity schedule, with three votes for, 11-12 votes against, and 7-8 abstaining from voting. 

Currently, the consensus is to play a JV schedule.

The rationale against voting for St. James was the threat of a snowball effect from other program facing the same issues.

Zellmann was optimistic that their case will lead to changes in districting and scheduling in the spring of 2021, when the next districting cycle will take place.

Last year, St. James competed against five teams that either made the state tournament or the section final.

The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for March 9th at 6:00 p.m. at the Armstrong media center.

Other items:

Approve resolution to purchase two AEDs using MSHSL From B grant money.

Approve dismissal of M. Christina Rodriguez, para, as of January 24, 2020.

Approve termination of Alexis Holland from St. James Community Child Care program as of January 15, 2020.

Approve request by Roxanne Romsdahl to continue her unpaid medical leave for the 2020-2021 school year.

Approve leave of absence for Holly Ware-Malmgren for the remainder of the school year.

Resolution to authorize administration to propose reductions/additions for the 2020-2021 school year.

Lease agreement between St. James school district and River Bend Education.

Authorize Memo of Understanding between St. James Public Schools and the St. James Educational Services regarding the allowance of contracting for licensed teaching services for the Southfork program from the River Bend Education District.