School can’t replace outgoing personnel

By Emily Bialkowski

Caledonia Argus


It’s tough times for the Caledonia School Distric. Despite an additional $83,000 in state aid, brought about by the recently adjourned legislative session, the district is teetering  on a budget tight rope and cannot afford to add an additional administrator as hoped.

With the resignation of building and grounds manager Blaine Moe and athletic director Dave Meyer, the school board had hoped to create an elementary principal/building and grounds manager/athletic director position. That plan collapsed after the finance team plugged in the most current numbers available for 2013-14.

“We reduced $350,000 and at the end of the day we thought we were being very conservative, but what we found out is that if we didn’t have the money of Blaine [Moe] leaving and the athletic director piece we wouldn’t have met our mark,” Superintendent Ben Barton told the school board during a special meeting June 7.

“That was the most disheartening thing of all this,” Barton admitted.

Since funds aren’t available to  add an administrator, Barton recommended the following:

• Replace the outgoing building and grounds manager with one full time janitor while using the former manager as a month-to-month consultant.

• Divide the duties of the athletic director between the middle school/high school principal and a part time activities coordinator.

The athletic director duties under this structure break out as follows:

Principal takes on these extra duties:

– Hiring and supervising coaches

– Evaluating coaches

– Budget

– Policies and procedures

– Supervision of events

Activities coordinator takes on these duties:

– Scheduling games

– Scheduling officials

– Scheduling workers for events

– Coordination of event set up

These measures produce cost savings and keep the budget in the black.

School board members had a lot to say about the recommendations.

Kelley McGraw asked why the building and grounds position couldn’t be reposted and filled as it was before. “I think that gives us more stability,” McGraw said.

“I recommend we replace the [building and grounds] position but look at the duties and what we’re looking for when we advertise,” Jean Meyer said.

“I think we give it a shot with a consultant since it’s only month-to-month,” Jarred Barnes said.

The athletic director position also received attention.

“I think this is a good concept; I just worry is this too much on one person’s plate,” Meyer said.

“We can’t be spreading you guys so freaking thin,” McGraw said.

Meyer also questioned if the district could find an activities coordinator on their budget. “You think someone is going to come aboard for $6,500?” she asked.

Barton said the Wabasha-Kellog school district uses this type of structure and finds that it works.

Despite significant discussion and concern over burnout, the board decided they were not ready to act on the recommendations. They agreed to let the issue percolate at the committee level and will reconvene discussion at their June 17 regular meeting.

A small beacon of help awaits the district during the 2014-15 school year when the state begins funding all-day, five-year-old kindergarten. The change represents an additional $277,000 for the district.