School board hears positive ESL report

By Curt Nettinga of the Plainsman
Posted 5/29/24

Notes from May 28 Huron School Board meeting

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

School board hears positive ESL report


HURON — The Huron School Board held its second meeting in May a day later due to the Memorial Day holiday, in the Instructional Planning Center, Tuesday evening.

School District ESL (English as a Second Language) Coordinator Jolene Konechne presented a report to the board, highlighting the growth of the program and the number of students served in the district.

“When the Huron School District began its ESL program there were a total of 297 students,” Konechne told the board. “This year, we topped out at 1,029 students in the district and 123 students are in their first year in the country.”

She noted that the students are spread throughout the different classes in the district, with the Buchanan K-1 Center (99 in Kindergarten/115 in 1st Grade) and Madison 2-3 Center (116 in 2nd grade/95 in 3rd) have the highest numbers. The number of students drop as the higher grades are accessed, with the senior class having 21 students in ESL.

“And I need to say that there is one dedicated teacher in each of the school buildings K-6 for ESL,” Konechne added. She said the highest number of students in ESL are from Guatemala, and that a total of 21 languages and 29 countries are represented in the district’s program.

Her report said that 64 students exited ESL this year, and that there are 424 students attending ESL summer school this year.

Superintendent Dr. Kraig Steinhoff reported that as of Tuesday, the school district has 203 students registered for Kindergarten this fall, which has pushed the district to open up a Kindergarten teaching position, to remain in the 21-22 student goal.

He added that the school district’s administration team met with the school’s resource officers as well as member of the Huron Police Department, to review the district shutdown on May 9. “We talked about what went well, what didn’t go as well and what we need to prepare for in the event the school district needs to enter lockdown again, due to safety concerns,” he said

Steinhoff issued thank yous to numerous groups and individuals and noted that a total of 563 individuals received three breakfasts and three lunches in one day through the school district’s “Grab and Go” summer food program.

Details on signing up are listed on the school district’s website (

Business Manager Kelly Christopherson presented an opportunity offered by the State Department of Ag and Natural Resources (DANR) on revised drinking water standards by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“With grant money from the EPA, DANR is seeking to partner with two school districts - Huron being asked to be one of them - to have the testing done,” Christopherson said. “If we participate, the DANR does a request for proposal, selects the company to do the testing, they come and sample every place there is for someone to get drinking water in a school building.”

Christopherson said that the great part about participating with DANR is that through the grant, all of the testing and any needed repairs or changes are covered at no cost to the school.

The agreement was approved.

Christopherson also shared that the school’s property insurance and liability insurance, which it gets through the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, will go up this year. “Property rates are up about 35% and liability coverage is increasing 6%,” he said, pointing toward the continuing trend of double-digit natural disasters taking place around the world as the main cause of the increase. “Premiums have increased,” he allowed, “but we are always well covered.”

In other action, the board

• Approved the procurement plan for the district’s Child Nutrition Program.
• Approved a first reading on a request from the Huron School District Foundation to share the funding of a an executive director.
• Approved the ratification of classified staff negotiations.
• Approved three new hires (Teresa Smith, substitute teacher/para, and Ian Krekelberg/50% Tiger Follies, Catherine Ramirez, substitute teacher/para); one resignation (Taylor Ryan, as middle school tennis coach and science teacher) two contracts (Ashley Savis, high school ESL teacher, Nyo Nyo Sein, middle school science teacher) and one contract revision (Carson Britzman).
• Aproved an open enrollment request for two students.
• Approved a two-year letter of agreement between the school district and Let’s Go Learn.
• Approved a Leave of Absence request for Linda Gibson.
• Learned that the HHS library, and librarian Rachel Kary was awarded the 21st Century School Library Award, earning an Exemplary recognition.