New and gently used items being collected in Upsala

It’s time to gather up very gently used or brand new stuffed animals and blankets that will be used for area children in need. The brand new project is being spearheaded by students at Upsala High School, under the supervision of Spanish teacher Lindsay Bergmann.

“The idea came out of WIN time,” said Dean of Students Nick Klug. “The items will be given to children in need to use during stressful times.”

WIN time (“What I Need”) is an initiative started at the high school last year, when it was held a couple of times a week. It was so successful that it is now being held every day. The time is used for students who need help in a particular subject area as well as being an opportunity for enrichment.

Students in Bergmann’s WIN time came up with a wealth of ideas for giving projects in the community. The first one chosen was the stuffed animal and blanket drive. Currently being called the Upsala Volunteer Group, the members are looking for a more clever name, Bergmann said.

Some of the possible recipients of the stuffed animals and blankets could be a local chaplain who likes to have a stash to give to kids with families in crisis. Police officers like to keep items in their squad cars for children who are involved in car accidents.

“We’re just getting started with it, so we want to see how many items come in before we know where we can make donations,” said Bergmann.

The items for this project can be taken to the Upsala home volleyball games, Oct. 5, 12, 19 and 23 or they can be put in a collection box located in the high school office.

Future ideas for the group include possibly making fleece tie blankets with stuffed animals to give to foster children in the area. The students are making more plans that include making Christmas cards for nursing home residents and veterans. Students are compiling lists for Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift items to be donated as well.

Upsala School Board Briefs

Other business coming before the Upsala School Board Wednesday, included:

  • Approving the new Special Education Paraprofessional handbook;
  • Approving certification of the preliminary 2017 payable in 2018 levy at the highest rate. The final levy amount could be lower, but is not allowed to be higher than what is certified. Final numbers will not be known until after the district’s annual audit. The levy amount is contingent on whether the referendum passes in November;
  • Learning that Supt. Vern Capelle will be conducting several informational meetings in the community prior to the special election regarding the referendum, which will be Tuesday, Nov. 7. Residents of the district who vote in favor of the referendum will be voting to extend an existing property tax referendum which is due to expire. It will be valid for 10 years. “We are not in a crisis, but we do need to renew the referendum. We’re not raising it beyond what it was,” said Board Chair Dean Peterson;
  • Approving a $200 donation from the Upsala Arts Board for the band activity fund;
  • Approving contracts for Jean Johnson, new dishwasher/cook and Barb Kobylinski, part-time preschool paraprofessional;
  • Approving a contract renewal for workers compensation through Nelson Insurance for $13,051. Board member Karin Nelson abstained;
  • Approving a renewal quote for property and liability insurance of $38,038 with Liberty Mutual, working through Johnson Insurance Agency;
  • Approving the 2017-2018 lists of fundraisers and field trips;
  • Approving the placement of Amy Lanners as K-3 literacy tutor by Minnesota Reading Corps;
  • Approving an agreement for shared speech services with the Swanville School District;
  • Approving the cooperative sponsorship agreement with Swanville for football, baseball, girls/boys track and speech;
  • Approving a proposal from IEA, Inc. for environmental, health and safety management services for $3,500. This includes five on-site visits annually;
  • Approving the renewal of the Post-Secondary Education Opportunity (PSEO) with Central Lakes College;
  • Approving a $20,000 transfer from the general fund to the food service fund for fiscal year 2016 because of a deficit balance;
  • Approving a $300 donation from the Upsala Lions for disc golf equipment;
  • Approving the hiring of an additional preschool special education paraprofessional, since more students were added at the elementary level; and
  • Approving a teacher request for extended sick leave for 10 consecutive days from Oct. 27 – Nov. 10.

The next regularly scheduled school board meeting will be Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school media center.

A special meeting to canvas the results of the special election will be held Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school media center.

The annual Truth in Taxation meeting will be held Wednesday, Dec. 20, at 7 p.m. in the high school media center, just prior to the monthly board meeting.