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Fillmore Central School Board: District hires new staff for school year

Fri, Jul 28th, 2006
Posted in Education

PRESTON - Several new teachers have been hired to work at Fillmore Central Schools to replace those who retired or resigned in the last few months. Principals Heath Olstad and Brenda Lentz presented the school board with the names of the new teachers at the regular meeting Tuesday evening, July 25.

In the elementary school, Tammy Van Moer has been hired for the First Grade position. Erica Try will be the new Early Risers Advocate, as well as the Talented and Gifted director. Tim Ostrom has been hired for Elementary and Middle School Technology. The new Community Education director will be Holly Kanengeiter.

Jessica Powell has been hired to teach K-5 Music and Middle School Band, with the conditions that she receives a state-approved variance (due to not being licensed) and that she will be released from her current contract with another school district. Lentz explained that the job had been posted since early April, and they received only 6 applications. The other applicants either took positions elsewhere or were not qualified for the position. Powell is currently teaching English, but has 30 credits toward a minor in music and a lot of experience teaching music.

Lentz also mentioned that they received no applicants for the FACS (Family and Consumer Sciences) position. Nancy Dahly has agreed to return to the school at .25 FTE, and will be teaching for about 100 minutes a day. There have also been some changes made to the schedules and assignments of the current teachers.

At the High School, Nate Carlson has been hired to teach Phy. Ed. and Health. There will be two new Special Ed. Teachers; Robert Hanson and Holly Clark.

The resignation of Marietta Buchholz was accepted. Buchholz was the ECFE Director and Talented and Gifted teacher.

Tobacco Settlement

Gary Feine represented the teacher committee proposing to distribute the Blue Cross Tobacco Settlement money. Some of the money has been spent on fans for the classrooms, and there is now $4,396.79 remaining. The committee decided to split that amount equally among the staff that is currently on the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Health Insurance, since that is where the money came from originally. According to Feine, the committee had chosen to have the money added to September paychecks, and the board accepted the proposal.

Superintendent Myrna Luehmann stated there are 56 members on insurance right now, 43 teachers, 6 support staff and two administrators. They would each receive $78.51, or approximately $58.88 after taxes.

Board member Sue Ostrom expressed her concern with the decision, saying, "I think we can do better." Ostrom felt there were better ways to spend the money, citing examples from how other schools had spent their money. Ostrom also argued that only around 10-15 people receiving rebate money were actually teaching at Preston-Fountain during the period from 1984-1991, the period the settlement covered.

Feine stated that other schools had also offered one-time rebates to their employees. "The teachers aren't all in agreement either about what to do with the money, but we have to come up with something, and we just want to get it done with." Feine explained that the premiums paid by the staff at that time were a negotiated amount of money, and not a percentage.

Ostrom suggested drawing up a survey for the 56 members to ask who actually wanted the money and who didn't, and whatever money was not accepted could go back to the district.

"The argument could be made that it's the teachers' money as much as the district's," said board member John Torgrimson. "I don't have a problem with it."

Maintenance Projects

Luehmann brought the board members up to date on the summer maintenance projects going on. The asbestos removal is completed at the high school, and the roofing project will be completed by the first of August as expected. The general cleaning is done at the elementary and middle schools. The cafeteria and kitchen asbestos flooring has been removed, and new flooring will be put in soon. The board was in agreement to get a couple more opinions about the tuck pointing project at the high school, since the estimate has grown to $400,000-500,000, higher than the original estimate of $80,000.

Other Business

Torgrimson updated the board on the baseball field projects. So far, the committee has raised $7,500, and with pledges will reach $10,000. "That money, along with the money the district is contributing, will allow us to do both of the infields," said Torgrimson. Work on the fields should be starting in the next couple of months. The committee is hoping to raise additional funds and have the work completed before the baseball season in the spring.

The board approved the following items:

• Coaching assignments for football in the fall

• Membership in the MN School Board Association and the Southeast Service Coop for 2005-2006

• An open enrollment request for two students

• A shared contract for Paula Birch with the Root Rover Education District

• The sports sharing agreement with Lanesboro and Mabel-Canton schools

• An increase in wages for district office employees (Business Manager, Bookkeeper, Administrative Assistant) of around 3.6 percent for the next two years.

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