Detroit Lakes Public Schools Superintendent Mark Jenson has been "highly effective" and "exhibited exemplary leadership" in his first year on the job, according to the results of a job evaluation released by the Detroit Lakes School Board on Monday, Aug. 16.

School Board Chairwoman Amy Erickson issued a press release that detailed the results of Jenson's evaluation, conducted in a closed session held at the conclusion of Monday's regular board meeting.

The results of the evaluation were as follows: "It was the unanimous opinion of the School Board that Superintendent Jenson has been highly effective in his performance in our district. Mr. Jenson exhibited exemplary leadership while steering our school district through a pandemic in his first year on the job. Mr. Jenson exceeded our expectations in completion of the goals that were set for him. Future goals were also discussed and we look forward to Mr. Jenson’s continued leadership of our district."

Earlier in the meeting, the board approved a contract with Bristlin Construction for remodeling of the new Laker Transitions program building, as well as $10,777 in construction change orders for improvements at both Rossman and Roosevelt elementary schools. The change orders were for repairing the wood flooring in the Rossman gymnasium and adding a light pole at the Roosevelt playground.

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In other business, the board heard a report on the district's food services program from Food Services Director Ann Skjold, and approved keeping lunch and breakfast menu prices the same in 2021-22 as they were in 2020-21 — that is, free for all students, while for adults, they will remain at $4.15 for lunch and $3.10 for breakfast.

School board goals for the previous school year were also evaluated during the meeting, and Erickson said, "The main goal we had set for ourselves were to support our new superintendent and his role, especially given the COVID situation, and we feel like we were pretty successful at that. Our other goal was to be more effective communicators and though I think we have some room for improvement, we have made some strides in being more open and we are constantly looking for ways to improve. We welcome any feedback from the public."

With that in mind, she added, the board will be sending out surveys to parents in the district, asking for feedback on the board's overall performance as well as where they might improve. The surveys will be sent out with sufficient time given for response prior to the next regular school board meeting on Sept. 20.

The board also approved student handbooks for all Detroit Lakes Public Schools, including the Area Learning Center, high school, middle school, activities, coaches, Roosevelt Elementary and Rossman Elementary.

No mask mandate

Masks will not be required for students, staff or visitors at Detroit Lakes Public Schools when classes start on Sept. 7, per the 2021-22 Return to School Plan that was issued to parents and students in the district earlier this month.

"There is no local mask mandate," said Superintendent Jenson, but added that any future state requirements in that regard would still need to be followed.

The plan states: "All employees, students and visitors who are not fully vaccinated are encouraged to wear face coverings. Masks, however, will not be required for any staff or student in the buildings. Face coverings are still required on a school bus, per federal mandates regarding public transportation."

Though vaccination for all students and staff age 12 and above is "strongly recommended," per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, it is likewise not required to attend school, and there will be no social/physical distancing requirements.

Also,. students will no longer be required to self-quarantine if they have had close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, though they are still required to notify the district and "monitor their symptoms closely."

A full copy of the Return to School Plan is available at the school's website, dlschools.net, in the COVID-19 section.