By Emily Bialkowski
Several significant personnel decisions were made during the May 20 school board meeting. Due to revenue stream mandates, the district laid off employees while simultaneously adding a half-time position and considered adding an administrator.
First, the board adopted a resolution that put two teachers, Tina Fruechte and Zachariah Hauser, on unrequested leave of absence.
Later, the board approved a half-time instructional coach of curriculum and technology position and ratified the contract with Fruechte to reflect her gaining the new post beginning with the 2013-14 school year.
Board member Michelle Werner explained, “This is a new position and something that I feel is very worthwhile and needed.”
The position can be paid for out of staff development funds. The position will help teachers integrate one-to-one computing devices in the classroom.
“We need someone to lead us in staff development when moving forward with one-to-one computing,” Superintendent Ben Barton said.
These decisions passed with unanimous support, as did a resolution terminating Zoe Lamm as a middle school and high school science teacher, based on budget shortfalls.
Board member Kelley McGraw said, “I’ve heard awesome things about her. It’s too bad.”
Support staff did not come out from under budget constraints unharmed either. The board unanimously approved placing the following employees on layoff on the basis of seniority: Keri Eglinton, Jamie Ideker and Crystal Ostern.
A glimmer of hope resides in that, during the budget process, Caledonia’s finance team aired on the side of caution and assumed no additional aid from the state. But on May 19 the legislature passed an omnibus bill that pushes $485 million toward education.
Some of the provisions include:
• The state funding all-day kindergarten.
• A 3 percent basic funding formula increase over two years.
• $38 million more in special education funding, among other provisions.
The trickle-down effect in Caledonia will be positive and might even allow the district to hire staff back. District Finance Director Barb Meyer said solid numbers will not be available until early June.
The district is also awaiting word on Alternative Delivery of Specialized Instruction dollars. The district applied for this funding, which could boost the budget by $120,000.
“If we’re able to get the ADSIs funding, we’d bring back some of those folks. I guess we’re keeping our fingers crossed,” Barton said.
In other business, the board accepted two resignations: Nora Bengtson as a part-time special educational assistant effective at the end of the 2012-13 school year and Blaine Moe as the head custodian and maintenance director effective June 10.
The resignation of the head custodian and maintenance director, along with the resignation of the athletic director at the April school board meeting, propelled discussion about the district’s lack of administrative personnel.
“We’ve had a few changes with resignations, and I think we need to have a discussion on this and see where we’d like to go. I’d look at adding an administrative position while they absorb the athletic directing and management portion of Blaine’s position,” Werner said.
The idea was quickly supported by McGraw, who said, “If you look at the Three Rivers Conference, we’re desperately short of administrators. I see all sorts of justification for this position. I want to see us get another administrator; ideally, an elementary principal. I think it’s a no brainer – we absolutely should do it.”
Currently Barton holds the duties of superintendent and elementary principal and admits that principal duties take a back seat to being superintendent.
The new position would combine elementary principal, athletic director and building and grounds director.
“I don’t think I’d even entertain the option if we hadn’t had recent resignations. But one thing I’m committed to is having a balanced budget,” Barton said.
Action on the topic will wait until the finance committee can review new budget forecasts in early June.
A special meeting will then be held at 5:45 p.m. June 7 to make a decision on the matter.
“If the finances aren’t there, I would advise we don’t go in that direction,” Barton said.
In other news
In other news the board:
• Agreed to have the fall high school homeowner construction class execute repairs on the elementary school garage currently in a state of disrepair.
• Passed a resolution for membership in the Minnesota State High School League for 2013-14 school year.
• Agreed to participate in the Minnesota Department of Education teacher evaluation pilot for the 2013-14 school year.
• Instructed board member Amanda King to work with administration on creating the process for selecting two high school student representatives on the board.
• Entertained a presentation from choral director Ross Martin and several students on the benefits of attending the Chicago music trip, which already took place. “We couldn’t have asked for a more fun trip, and our kids were fantastic,” Martin said.
As is tradition at each school board meeting, several groups and individuals were extended a thank you for helping make the Caledonia School District something to be proud of.
Congratulations were extended to Brent Schroeder for being named Coach of the Year by the 2012-13 Minnesota Football Coaches Association.
Congratulations were extended to the Caledonia High School Knowledge Bowl Team for taking fourth place at regionals.
Congratulations were extended to Brad Harguth and the FFA students for their success at the 2013 State FFA Convention.
And finally the school board recognized the Caledonia Lions for all their years of dedication to the school district, assisting in ticket sales during events.