#299 board eliminates building & grounds position, makes other cuts

By Clay Schuldt
Special for the Argus

Prior to the board voting on several resolutions to eliminate employee positions during the March 19 School Board meeting, building and grounds custodian Joel Hesse addressed the board to reconsider his termination. Hesse was confused about his termination as he had worked with the school district longer than all other custodians working at the school.

The board had considered terminating Hesse’s position at last month’s school board meeting, but chose to wait a month to determine how the remaining custodial staff would absorb the duties of building and grounds.

The board had stated that Hesse’s termination was due to budget concerns and had been discussed as an option since last summer. The board ultimately voted to eliminate the position of building and grounds custodian effective July 1, 2012.

Other staffing cuts

The board proceeded to pass resolution relating to the termination and non-renewal of teaching contracts for probationary teachers Jessie Emerson, Julie O’Mara-Meyer, and Julia Benson at the close of the current school year.

The board also passed resolutions placing Zachariah Hauser, Tina Fruechte, Lindsey Meyer, Becky Newgaard, Julia Erchoff-Costet, and Cheryl White on unrequested leave of absence effective at the end of the school year on June 30, 2012.

Becky Newgaard’s maternity leave request was also approved to begin around the birth of her child.

In addition a resolution was adopted by the board to discontinue the elementary school principal position.

The board also voted to discontinue the contracted services with Dick Dovenberg effective June 1, 2012.

Action items

The board approved leasing approximately half an acre of tillable land located north of Warrior Avenue to Steve Zmyewski at a rental amount of $187.50 for two years with the payment date set for May 15 each year.

The board approved changes to the school calendar. The changes include having a two hour late start for the 12th grade class on Tuesday April 17, 2012 and for the 9th and 12th grade classes on Wednesday April 18, 2012 due to state mandated testing dates.

Revised budget approved

The board adopted the revised budget for the school year. Superintendent Marcia Love explained there was a significant deficient from the proposed budget to the revised budget due to budget cuts that were proposed and passed but did not take place as well as legal bills amounting to around $36,000.  However Love admitted that with the cuts made earlier in the meeting, the school will receive savings.  “It doesn’t look good now,” said Love “but we are looking at new money”.

Class registrations

It was suggested by the board that next year the school move up the class registration process by a few months. This would allow the school to see which teachers will be needed for the next semester and allow the board to determine cuts sooner and not keep staff guessing all through the semester at the status of their positions for next year.

Principal Paul DeMorett felt that registration could be moved up to January at the earliest. Another possibility suggested for savings would be more online classes as they have the potential to be cheaper.

Technology/ building and

grounds capital projects

Eric Jerviss, the school district’s network technician gave a presentation on a proposed use of One-Day Bond proceeds for a technology capital project.

Jerviss began by highlighting several key changes. The first would be switching to a new Email system, specifically gmail which uses Google apps.  The system is free for all K-12 schools and would allow students and staff to store documents off site rather than on a local server eliminating maintenance costs for storage.  Jerviss added the goal is giving both buildings 100 percent wireless coverage with separate networks for staff, students, and guests.

The plan calls for replacing bulky computer monitors with thinner models which would save energy. The new monitors could save the school $3 to $4 per unit every month in electricity.  With approximately 170 monitors in the school, this would be a $510 to $680 savings a month.  The monitors need to be updated as several are failing due to age. The savings would pay off the initial expense in a few years. The plan also calls for new student computers and to redo all the computer labs.  Labs would include access to laptops in the middle/high school and ipad carts for the elementary school.

It was suggested by the board that upgrades in technology could make it easier for Caledonia school’s to work with other districts through ITV classes and Google Docs.  Jerviss commented that this could be a possibility and was willing to work with the other schools and their technology.

The board also discussed possible capital improvements to building and grounds. The idea was to spend a limited amount of the One-Day Bond on both the technology capital projects and the building and grounds capital project. After reviewing the list of improvements on building and grounds the board felt the plans to one or both projects would need to be scaled back.

Low on the priority list for building and grounds was the middle/high school music shell construction. However Board Member Kelley McGraw preferred the addition of a new music shell over redoing the elementary school garage.

Later in the meeting McGraw commented that “One of the goals of the school board is to have a vital music department,” and lamented about the current size of the department.

The board looked for alternatives to reduce spending on both capital projects. Scaling back on the technology project Jerviss gave two alternatives: spread the purchases out over two years, or purchase less up to date technology.

The board agreed that it would be better to reduce and go with the latest technology. The board voted to approve both project plans, but amended them to postpone the purchase of smart boards in the middle/high school and postpone the tear down of the garage.  However, the board may choose to return the items to the list if the school is able to receive a discount on some of the computer technology.

The new total for the technology project is $161,559.95 with building and grounds coming out at $152,400 for a combined total of $313,959.95 which will come out of the money obtained from the One-Day Bond.

Search committee

The Superintendent/Elementary Principal Search Committee has begun the interviewing process with three candidates: Benjamin Barton, Tami Martin, and Deron Stender.

  • littleck

    8 1/2 years experience as a Building & Grounds Custodian yet 3 custodians were hired this summer/fall…the Building & Grounds Custodian was put on the Seniority List with the Secretaries whereas the 3 hired this school year were put with the Custodians…the Board cuts the “position” effective July 1…many people are asking why? It doesn’t make sense, but then a lot of things at Caledonia Area Public School haven’t the past 2 years. What happened to students first? What are the definitions of honesty and professionalism? How can a school district ethically give 5 individuals several thousand dollars in raises this school year and then turn around at this month’s School Board Meeting and put some of our finest teachers on Unrequested Leave? The world is so mixed up right now and it breaks my heart to watch it daily in our own backyards at the Elementary and the Middle/High School. Help us, Lord!

    • 1234

      littleck you are right about most things not making sense with Caledonia’s public schools. However, think about the groundskeeper position this way: his wife used to be an elementary school principal. It’s possible that she sneakily made it so his position was put in under secretarial staff so that he could get more benefits. Why else would he be placed there and not with the custodians? He’s complaining but that’s where he wanted to be in the first place and now it backfired.

  • truth

    The Lord cant help. They took him out of the schools already.

  • littleck

    The only person that can make changes to a seniority list with the groups is the Superintendent of Schools…not wives, not teachers, not support staff. This family knows why the Building and Ground person was placed with the secretaries as another member of the custodian staff was gracious enough to share the truth. Call it backfiring or whatever, but God must truly have a better plan for him.
    Thank you “truth!”

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