By Emily Bialkowski
The Caledonia School Board voted in favor of a pay raise Jan. 21 after not having increased the stipend for more than 16 years. A comparison on school board compensation among all Three Rivers Conference schools was evaluated, with Caledonia coming in last place.
Some districts pay per meeting, some pay an annual lump sum and some pay a stipend per month. But, by averaging out the number of meetings attended in a year with the compensation, it’s roughly $92 per meeting. Caledonia sits at $35 per meeting. Another way to look at the numbers is: Caledonia members average $490 per year, while the average across other districts is $1,250.
“I don’t bring it up because we need money; I bring it up because if we’re trying to get to the 50 percent mark for everyone else, we should consider the board, too,” Board Member Kelley McGraw said, adding that School Board members miss work and use vacation time to attend certain meetings.
“I think the reason it has stayed so low is because of the budget,” Board Member Michelle Werner said. “I don’t think any of us have come into it for the money, but I would agree all of us have to take a day off to attend a meeting,” she said.
In addition to monthly board meetings, members sit on two or more committees and voluntarily attend school functions throughout the year.
Superintendent Ben Barton seemed to support a change and said: “You’re taking strides to get to middle ground. Even with an increase, you’re still below the average pay,” he said.
The board approved the following compensation package, effective Jan. 1, 2014:
• $50 per meeting attended – regular, special and committee with $75 for two consecutive meetings in a day.
• $125 for full day out-of-district meetings.
• $75 for half day out-of-district meetings.
“That would be a logical step toward getting us to the middle,” McGraw said in support.
During the student update section of the meeting, senior Lauren Perry said students of Zoe Lamm’s science classes were appreciative of the opportunity to visit the Minnesota State Zoo.
She also said a group of students is coordinating an all-day blood drive on Feb. 26 in the middle school/high school gym.
Finally, she said some students have expressed an interest in hosting a service day where kids would perform a community service, such as cleaning yards or visiting the nursing home. The kicker, Perry said, was that students wanted to pick the project themselves.
“They don’t want adults saying, ‘Here’s what you are going to do,’” Perry said.
Barton said he felt such a project would pick up on one of the district’s core values: service.
McGraw said he would support using school time for such an effort.
When asked his opinion, middle school/high school Principal Paul DeMorrett questioned the logistics.
“It’s a huge project if it’s schoolwide. There’s 400 kids in our building. I think it would be great, but I’m not sure any one place can hold 400 students,” he said, adding that limiting the service day to only those who want to participate may help.
Barton echoed the sentiment, saying, “The devil will be in the details.”
Barton and DeMorrett agreed to meet with a student committee to evaluate the possibilities.
One-day bond funds
Barton presented a budget of suggested purchases from the district’s 2012 one-day capital bond, worth $495,000. The list mostly addresses technology, curriculum and security needs.
“This is going to be a living document because there might be some of these things that we budgeted and we might find we’re coming in quite a bit less than that,” Barton said.
For example, $40,000 was allocated for securing entries at the two schools, but one contractor advised the district to look at an option that is only $10,000.
“Any approval is subject to change, and I would certainly keep the board informed on what that would look like. A budget is your best guess,” Barton said.
Werner said she was OK with the fluidity of the proposal as long as items didn’t start coming in way over budget.
The list was approved as presented.
Pay in equity report
The board approved the district’s Pay In Equity Report, which is mandated by the state and is a tool to make sure districts compensate fairly across genders and across job descriptions for comparable work.
The board also approved the spring sports coaching contracts. (See chart.)
Modification to handbook
The board agreed to modify the middle school/high school handbook to include a student participation fee of $35 for those in the one-act play.
Under the administrative reports section of the meeting, DeMorrett updated the board on several areas of focus, including:
• Completing pre-registration at the high school.
• Starting a new semester with shared classes with the Houston School District.
• Early planning for graduation.
• Next year’s athletic budget.
Title I and Testing Coordinator Nancy Runningen offered a similar update, which included:
• Community education class catalogue getting circulated.
• Preschool registration for next year begins in February.
• Testing continues at the elementary school.
• The Junior FIRST Lego League attended its first event.
As is tradition at each School Board meeting, groups and individuals are extended a thank you for supporting the Caledonia School District.
A thank you was extended to PACE for their contributions to the elementary school and for their support with the Kindness Retreat.
A thank you was also extended to Caledonia Rotary for their support with the Kindness Retreat.
The board voted to go in to closed session to discuss upcoming negotiations with the district’s bargaining units. No action was taken upon returning into open session.
The next regular School Board meeting is set for 6 p.m. Feb. 18.
Caledonia Spring Sports Coaching Contracts 2014
– Dave Konz, head coach, at $3,116
– Tom Schultz, assistant coach, at $2,216
– Zach Hauser, junior high coach, at $1,834
Boys and girls golf:
– Jeremy Leis, head boys golf coach, at $3,284
– Jacquelyn Hauser, head girls golf coach, at $2,947
– Mitch Mullins, assistant boys and girls golf coach, at $2,216
Boys and girls track:
– Carl Fruechte, head boys track coach, at $3,284
– Reese Wait, head girls track coach, at $3,284
– Eddie Hodges, boys and girls assistant track coach, at $1,879
* All coaching contracts are contingent on participation numbers in each sport.