Board decides not to go with split kindergarten/first grade

By Clay Schuldt

Special for the Argus

While a split class comprised of kindergarten and first grade students had been considered by the Caledonia Area School Board, it appears as if that is all it was…a consideration.

Interim Elementary Principal Jane Morken addressed the board concerning staffing next year during the May 22 board meeting.

As a larger than average kindergarten class will be entering the school along with a larger first grade class next year, there had been talk on how best to divide the classes.

Morken’s recommendation was to create two full-time kindergarten sections, two full-time first grade sections and one teacher who would help in both kindergarten and first grade classes, but not in a multi-age setting. While the multi-age classroom was considered, the idea proved unpopular among parents.

Resignations and resolutions

Under resignations the board accepted the resignation from Kathy Danaher as elementary teacher at the end of the 2011-2012 school year with thanks for her 39 years of service and dedication to the school district.

Cheryl Utecht resigned as the National Honor Society advisor at the end of 2011-2012 school years and the board approved her resignation with thanks for her 10 years of service and dedication to the school district in this position.

The board accepted the resignation from Marcia Love as interim superintendent effective June 30, 2012 with thanks for her service and dedication to the school district.

The resignation of Joel Hesse as building and grounds custodian effective May 11, 2012 was accepted with thanks for his service and dedication to the district

Interim elementary principal Jane Morken’s resignation effective at the end of the school year was accepted by the board, with thanks for her service and dedication.

The board accepted the resignation of James Westland as the junior high boys’ basketball coach effective immediately. A contract was later ratified to hire Westland as the head girls’ basketball coach.

The board ratified the 2011-2013 Support Staff Agreement between the Caledonia Educational Support Professional Local #7345 and the Board of Education of School District 299.

A memorandum of understanding was approved between Judith Flaten and the school to provide home-bound services to a student beginning the week of April 30, 2012 through June 1, 2012 or until the student is able to return to school. This position requires one hour of instruction equivalent to the number of school days in a week at an hourly wage of $23.06.

A memorandum of understanding was approved between new Superintendent/Elementary Principal Benjamin Barton and to the dollars that were to go to fully fund the deductible on his VEBA health plan to a 403b contribution beginning the 2012-2013 school year.

The board passed a resolution discontinuing and reducing education programs and positions of high school science.

A resolution was passed to eliminate the nurse contract and the nurse position shall be placed in layoff status effective June 1, 2012.

The board approved the posting of a part-time special educational assistant position for the 2012-2013 school year.

The board passed approval to post for a temporary IT summer help position to assist the technical coordinator with summer installation and setup of projects.

The second reading of the Health & Safety Policy was approved.

The resolution for membership in the Minnesota State High School League for 2012-2013 was approved.

An agreement for consultant services between Hildi Inc. and Caledonia Area Public Schools was approved.

Springsted was added as one of the school district’s public sector financial advisors.

The board voted to accept membership into the Minnesota Rural Education Association. Board Chair Michelle Werner felt it was something the school should do as the organization would give Caledonia and other rural areas more pull at the state level.

Voluntary reduction in hours

The board approved a request from Joanne Zard for a voluntary reduction in her position from full-time to 0.33-time as the middle/high school media specialist beginning with the 2012-2013 school year.

Some of the members of the board were confused by this request and asked for clarification.

“I would like to be in the media center, and I would like to be full days,” Zard explained.  “When the original cut was made to the media center it was a 50 percent cut and so my time right now (in the media center) is a third time.  I think it is much better for students if I would be here two full days a week.”

Zard felt that Caledonia students were not all receiving an education in media center skills under current conditions.

Principal Paul DeMorett felt this change would be a benefit to the school “Instead of having her for two hours a day every day, this is making her go two full days a week. It would allow Mrs. Zard to reach every class in our school as opposed to just the ones that have class in the two hours she’s in here.  So it would allow her to teach the media skills to every class throughout the year.”

Board member Kelley McGraw commented that while he liked the idea, he felt the arrangement was a personal risk for Zard, as it lowered her time, benefits and risked her seniority in the English Department.  “I am incredibly grateful to you for offering to do this,” McGraw noted.

“I want to do what is best for kids,” said Zard, “because they have an incomplete education right now.  They are not getting lifelong learning skills they need.”

The board agreed to try the new arrangement for the next school year and see if it is successful.


Principal Paul DeMorett gave a report on the Concurrent Enrollment Update, in which 47 students take placement tests and the proctor was impressed with the scores of students.

Arrangements with the music and sports department have been reached to eliminate overlap between sporting events and musical events.

A final draft of the Attendance Policy will be made available to the board before the June board meeting.

Interim Superintendent Marcia Love announced that the Caledonia/Spring Grove coop softball team will be joining the Three Rivers Conference and will result in more games.

The board discussed the change in Caledonia’s football conference.  Caledonia has been re-grouped into a conference with smaller schools that will require more travel. The board was concerned this would result in a drop in gate receipts during home games.

The school has placed several auction items on the county auction June 20 at 4:30 p.m.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 31 and is a special meeting to discuss options concerning the One-Day Bond.