Morris Area School Board learns of new district advertising proposal

Activities Director and Dean of Students Blake Karas gave a report to the Morris Area School Board about advertising within the school, and a proposal to make the efforts more streamlined and potentially increase revenue.

Currently, advertising is already done in several areas such as scoreboard advertisements, which went to pay for the scoreboard, and sponsorships for shows. To acquire those advertisements, a staff member will usually have to send out mass emails whenever they have a moment to do so and might have to make multiple requests to area businesses throughout the year. This can be cumbersome not only for the person requesting the advertisement but for the business as well. 

Karas presented a new program that would unite advertising efforts by creating advertising packages that businesses could participate in that would include multiple types of advertising, as well as an a la carte-style menu so individual items could be selected by businesses. Advertisers could choose a package option and still choose off of the a la carte menu, just a package option, or individual items off of the a la carte menu only. This could streamline advertising efforts, and be more convenient for local businesses by making clear what there is to offer in only one ask versus multiple. “We have a very good community that supports student activities,” Karas said.

Karas also showed examples of the types of advertising that other schools use as well to be used as ideas for advertising at Morris Area Schools.

The board meeting was once again attended by several members of the Morris Area Teachers Association. Two members of the association addressed the board in advocacy for a better salary and benefits package. Joe Ferriero began his statement to the board by saying his colleagues are “simply world-class.” He went on to say that despite feeling valued and supported in almost every aspect of his job, the current salary and benefits package make it incredibly difficult. He stated that the health insurance package is inadequate, and leaves him to fear that a single illness or injury will cause financial hardship. Another cause for concern he stated was compensation for extracurricular activities, and when he broke down the hours that he has worked so far this year compared to his salary, he has made about .84 cents per hour. He ended his statement by saying, “Please, let’s work together to address concerns around salary and benefits. We, the educators, dedicate our lives to shaping young minds in this community and deserve to feel secure not only in our jobs but in our health and well-being.

Greenwaldt addressed the board by saying that he has been in education for 37 years and that it was not an easy position to stand in front of the board. He said he is aware of the numerous letters sent to the board from staff, and the statistics that have been presented comparing Morris Area Schools to other schools of similar size, but he wanted to speak for those who couldn’t speak for themselves. He then went on to introduce his new granddaughter, who will graduate in 2042, and said he hopes she will aspire to excel academically and become an above-average student. “Speaking on [her] behalf, I express concern regarding the compensation of the teachers who receive a below-average pay compared to similar schools.” He adds that due to the lower pay, experienced teachers are leaving in search of better opportunities, and new hires are deterred from joining the district altogether due to more attractive offers elsewhere. He ended his statement by quoting Theodore Roosevelt, “Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.” 

The boys’ soccer program was approved. Karas stated that the first year will come with a cost of about $30,000, and subsequent years will be about $10,000. The higher start-up costs come from the need to purchase equipment, jerseys, and facilities. For the first year, the program will likely be junior varsity (JV), with about 10 games. After that, a full schedule of varsity and junior high JV can be established. Karas said that now that the program has been approved, they can begin fine-tuning more of the details.

The second reading and approval of four policies took place. Policy 405 complies with the Minnesota Veterans Preference Act which provides preference points for veterans applying for employment with political subdivisions, including school districts, as well as additional rights for veterans in the discharge process. Policy 406 guides school district employees as to the data the school district collects and maintains regarding its employees, volunteers, independent contractors, and applicants. Policy 407 provides district employees with a place of employment free from hazardous substances. Policy 408 protects the rights of school district employees and students under both state and federal law when requested to testify or provide educational records for a judicial or administrative proceeding.  

Donations totaling $7,668.52 were approved by the board.