The Rushford-Peterson School Board quickly completed their organizational portion of their meeting at their first meeting January 22. Board officials remain the same as last year with Chris Grindland, chair; Amy Woxland, vice-chair; Ken Sawle, treasurer; Matt Helgemoe, clerk. Meeting dates will be the third Monday of each month at 6 p.m.
Board salaries were discussed. Ken Sawle shared that he felt the chair did a lot more work and should get a raise. Amy Woxland commented that she likes the way the board has been doing it in recent years with a small raise each year. Chris Grindland suggested raising the director salary to $100 each month. Ultimately, the board decided to raise each salary by $200. With this raise, the chair will receive $1,500, the vice-chair, clerk and treasurer will each receive $1,250 and the other directors will receive $1,200 for the year.
The Fillmore County Journal was chosen as the official newspaper. Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney remain the district’s legal counsel.
The school depositories remained the same with the general fund at Rushford State Bank and deposit and investment accounts at Merchants Bank. The board authorized Business Manager Toni Oian, Payroll & Accounting Clerk Laura Hahn and Superintendent Bernard to invest cash reserves and make electronic transfers. The board also designated the accounting and clerical duties of board clerk and board treasurer to District Office Staff (Toni Oian, business manager; Laura Hahn, payroll & accounting clerk; and Jodi Peters, administrative assistant).
Committee assignments remained much the same. One of the changes was that Ken Sawle took over Amy Woxland’s position on the Meet and Confer Committee. Woxland is no longer on the R-P Foundation Committee.
The board continued reviewing school policies with a first and second reading. There were no changes to the policies reviewed and no discussion of them.
Superintendent Dr. Ben Bernard once again shared the attendance changes, reporting it was down two, but adding that the past week a new student had started. Bernard noted that the board will need to continue to monitor the numbers in the incoming kindergarten classes as they make budget decisions.
A taxpayer at the last board meeting had questioned their taxes. Bernard has been working with Aaron Bushberger and Matthew Hammer, the district’s financial advisors from Ehler. They were able to provide a partial answer to the question; they believe the tax rate was not correct from Winona County. A meeting is being set up with Winona, Fillmore and Houston County to see how the error will be resolved.
Bernard shared that R-P has gotten the final approval documentation from the state for $102,000 for Solar for Schools. The representative from Solar Connections thinks that the 30% direct pay rebate can be applied to the entire project, which would result in no cost to the district.
Dr. Bernard informed the board that he felt the district would not benefit from offering an early retirement incentive to teachers this year. He advised the board not to offer it this year, suggesting that the board begin discussing it next year in the negotiations committee to see what the teachers and school want the incentive to be – cost savings for the district or a bonus for retiring teachers. Bernard advised that he felt the incentive should be consistent.
High School Principal Jake Timm shared in his report that the cost of the senior class trip originally planned for Florida and the theme parks had increased by $800 to $1,000 a student. With that increase, only 11 students were planning to go. The decision was made to go to Galveston, Tex., instead; this will keep the expense in the same range as in recent years and will help more students afford the trip.
R-P Activities/Community Education Director John Loney asked for anyone interested in helping with home basketball, baseball and softball games and as junior high officials to contact him. Loney thanked the shot clock staff – Kendra Vix, Davin Thompson, Jake Timm and Jack Culhane – for their excellent work this season.
In the HVED Executive Director Highlights, parents of special education students in all schools served by HVED were asked to join SEAC (Special Education Advisory Council). The goal is to have parents from each school on the council. The council is intended to build collaborative relationships between the parents and HVED and increase parent engagement.
The Rushford-Peterson School Board will meet next February 26 at 6 p.m. This meeting date is a week later than usual due to the Presidents Day holiday. The public is welcome to attend.