The Fillmore Central School Board discussed the option of a fee reduction for school staff who have children in preschool, SAC, or daycare as an incentive for employment. Superintendent Heath Olstad suggested offering a 20% reduction in fees to any K-12 staff and a 40% reduction for employees of the forementioned programs. The numbers had been run and it was determined that the budget could handle the loss of revenue. Olstad recommended applying the reductions only to services used during school hours and not summer SAC or after school care. Board member Shelly Topness noted that daycare staff still need childcare during the summer months and should receive the 40% discount during that time.
Board member Deb Ristau asked if staff who work in multiple areas of the school including preschool would receive the 20% or the 40% fee reduction. Darla Ebner answered that they would have to be coded as preschool staff to qualify for 40%. While Ristau noted that she was in support of the reductions, she wasn’t sure if having different amounts was the best option. “I think it’s a great thing. I just don’t know if it’s going to help us get paras in the elementary,” she said, adding that she wanted to be sure that paraprofessionals were being placed in the area that fit them best, not the place that offered the best discount. Currently, the school is short two paraprofessionals and several daycare staff. Board member Jim Love recommended starting out with the different percentages to see if it helped with the shortages. The board unanimously approved a motion to offer a 20% fee reduction for preschool, daycare, and SAC fees for K-12 teachers and salaried staff and a 40% reduction for the rest of the school and childcare staff starting on November 1. Prior balances will not be affected by the change.
Elementary Principal Jim Peters noted that even with the frequent changes due to COVID exposures among students, parents have been very supportive and communicating well with the school. Superintendent Olstad echoed Peters’ sentiments. “Our ultimate goal is to stay in-person and we’re doing well at this time,” he said, adding that the parents at both buildings have been great to work with. “A sincere thank you to our families,” said Olstad. He has been staying updated on the numbers for Fillmore County and noted that it has been going through a surge, with the cases reported in mid-October the highest they had been since the pandemic began. However, those numbers are now starting to go back down. As of the morning of October 26, 2.1% of all students and staff at the elementary school and 2.5% at the high school are actively in some stage of quarantine.
Superintendent Olstad is currently working with Ron Scheevel to put together a Veterans Day program although they are not sure if it will be in-person this year or livestreamed.
A resignation from daycare employee Erin Gossman was accepted. Emily Paulson and Ashley Bothun were hired as support staff. The winter coaches were approved and included Brady O’Connor, Andy Todd, Chad Musel, Levi Olstad, Jason Schwarz, Kenzie Broadwater, Steve Lindstrom, Brandi Mayer, Blaise Sass, Joe Cullen, and Monte Holm. The volunteer coaches are Paul Snell, Jason Hovey, Elisha Himli, Ashley Himli, and Jackie Whitacre.
The 2021-22 seniority list was reviewed and approved.
The quarterly donations in the amount of $2,116 were accepted with gratitude.
A transfer of $1,587.50 from the Milk Assistance Fund to the Milk Break Revenue Account was approved.
Superintendent Olstad said that, when submitting their resignation, several former employees had stated that they didn’t like the monthly pay period the district uses. He recommended changing all staff over to bi-weekly pay periods, but noted that it may not be wise to do that immediately as business manager Kathy Whalen is retiring after 37 years and is currently training her replacement. He felt that it would be best to allow the entire business office time to adapt to their new roles and responsibilities with Whalen’s retirement before changing how they do things. Board members concurred that moving from a monthly to a bi-weekly pay period would be a good thing for employees. “I don’t think anyone’s going to say, ‘no, I don’t want that,’” Love commented. Board member Sue Sikkink agreed, stating that it may attract more job applicants. A committee will be formed to discuss the details further with the goal of implementing the pay period change by January 1, 2022, and will include Ebner, Whalen, and two school board members.
The next Fillmore Central school board meeting will be held November 23 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.