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Fillmore Central talks budget cuts

Fri, May 27th, 2011
Posted in Education

There was a lot of talk about the budget and budget cuts at the recent Fillmore Central School Board meeting. Superintendent Myrna Luehmann said they still have no idea where the state is as far as funding the school districts. She went over the list of proposed budget reductions that was presented at the last meeting.

Luehmann said they will be replacing the third grade teacher that retired with another who is not yet tenured. This will be a savings of about $4,500. They will also be hiring a new media aide for the high school at a lower rate. Reducing one science class a year at the high school makes for some savings. Along with putting Social Worker Danette Grimsrud on ULA (Unrequested Leave of Absence), this is a total cost savings of $142,000, which Luehmann said is lower than the previous amount proposed.

"Not a thing has changed with our funding issues," stated Luehmann. "The legislature did not develop a budget for education. There will be a special session at some point, but we may have a shutdown of the Minnesota state government."

The school has to approve their budget by the June meeting no matter what the legislature decides or doesn't decide. The board approved the budget cuts, on the condition there will be additional savings in transportation.

Board member Craig Britton said the transportation committee met with Harmony Transit owner Mark Scheevel to discuss options for reducing the transportation budget next year. One of the things discussed was cutting a route. Britton said each route costs $37,000, but the school would not save the entire amount by cutting one route. They are looking at how they can make cuts without increasing the student riding time too much. Britton explained there is a route to Wykoff and Fountain that could be consolidated and would only increase riding time 5-10 minutes. There are now eight stops in Fountain, and they could make that four. There are four stops in Wykoff that could be reduced to one or two.

Board member Shelly Topness asked whether they had considered the ages of the students. She was concerned that someone would not want their young child walking a long way to the bus stop. Britton said they have considered that.

Doing this would save Scheevel about 4,500 miles, and save the district around $15,000. Britton said if they decide to take that route, they need to meet with Scheevel again to work out some more details.

There was some discussion about the shuttle that takes high school kids from Preston to Harmony. There are currently two buses, and they talked about cutting it down to one.

Board member John Torgrimson said they must think outside the box about the transportation. "Mark does a great job getting our kids here safely, but the costs are increasing." He added the district currently spends almost one-sixth of its per pupil unit money on transporting the students.

Torgrimson also mentioned other schools in the area that have small vans that go out to get kids that live further away. Luehmann said the school vans they have now are very busy, and new vans would have to be bought, as well as drivers hired.

Chair person Ross Kiehne said he agreed with Torgrimson that something must be done differently. The committee will be meeting with Scheevel again to look at more options.

Community Education Report

Community Education Director Holly Kanengieter gave her annul report to the school board. She spoke about the adult enrichment programs and the classes for students. The most popular class for the students was the Mother's Day cake decorating class. Kanengieter said they struggle to get people for some of the adult enrichment classes, but a new soccer program has started, and the men's basketball and the hall walking are always popular.

Summer recreation begins June 8, with Ryan Scheevel and Jim Peters directing in both Harmony and Preston. Kanengieter said volleyball and t-ball are the most popular sports.

According to Kanengieter, the school readiness classes are already filled for next year, and there is a waiting list for all sections of the 3/4 class and the 4/5. She said they may be adding another section for the 4/5 year olds.

The new preschool daycare room opened on May 9, and there will be 20 kids there, with a teacher and an aide. Kanengieter said they are expecting 30 kids a day for the School Age Care (SAC) program this summer, with more coming in the fall.

The board approved the wage increases that Kanengieter recommended for the Community Ed. employees. All together, with 18 employees in all areas, the two percent increase will total $3,510.42.

Staffing Changes

The board approved several changes in staffing for the next school year. First of all, the contract for the new Superintendent Richard Keith was approved. Luehmann explained his contract is for half-time at $60,000 for the first year and a two percent increase the second year.

Four resignations were approved: Connie Lindstrom, elementary teacher; Mary Hatfield, high school media center aide; Tara Shanks, district office secretary; and Frank Tribon, who had one phy. ed. class at the high school.

The board also approved several hires for Community Education programs for the next year, many of them re-hires. Abby Stockdale will be the day care preschool room aide, the ECFE Co-Coordinator is Heather Stockdale, Janet O'Connor is the ECFE Parent Educator, and Gene Voight is the school readiness van driver. The long-term substitute for 3/4 school readiness is going to be Sue Schnaufer. Ryan Scheevel and Jim Peters will be directors for the Summer Recreation program, with students Colton Hampel, Cody Hendrickson, Becca Bakke, Brooke Ruesink, Ryan Bigalk, and Alex Peterson helping as well.

While making changes to staff at the high school and reducing a .5 science position, the teacher there will be moving to the elementary school and taking the position of Dan Bieberdorf. The board approved the resolution to terminate the non-tenured teacher.

The board also approved the resolution to place a tenured teacher, Social Worker Danette Grimsrud, on Unrequested Leave of Absence (ULA). Luehmann said this is no reflection of her work with the district, as she has done a great job. This was only for budgetary reasons.

There will also be some changes in FTE (full time equivalent) status due to the budget changes. School Psychologist Lyndsey Crossley was increased from a .25 FTE to a .5 FTE. She will be spending more time with the district to take some of the duties that Grimsrud currently has.

High school Choir Director Sarah Holten will increase from a .8 FTE to a 1 FTE. She will be adding a couple of music classes for seventh and eight graders, as well as taking on a FACS (Family and Consumer Science) class with a variance on her license.

Marit Janssen will increase her time from .4 FTE to 1 FTE, as she will be moving from the preschool teacher position to the vacant third grade position.

Teachers for summer school were also approved. Julie Siebenaler is the Elementary Special Ed. teacher for two weeks in August. The Early Childhood special ed. teacher for ages 3-6 from June 7 - August 31 will be Connie Berg. Paula Birch will take on the duties of Early Childhood Special Ed. teacher for age birth-3, as well as the speech and language pathologist.

Three paraprofessionals were also approved for two weeks in August. They are Nancy Broadwater, Terisa Scrabeck, and Jennifer Lindstrom.

Facilities Committee

Torgrimson stated the Facilities Committee is looking at needed projects for the summer. They will be doing a lot of Health and Safety projects, as much as $60,000 worth. They are also looking at some maintenance work at the high school, and some asbestos removal at the elementary, for a total of $100,000 in maintenance.

Torgrimson also mentioned they are looking at the next ten years as far as the facilities go. He said with the new superintendent starting this summer, they can take a fresh look at where they want to go with the buildings.

Senior Trip Report

Senior class advisor Joe Stevens informed the board that the senior trip to Washington, D.C. was a success. He said they only took one bus this year, but it worked out well. According to Stevens, the kids were great and never complained.

Stevens asked for approval from the board to work on some changes for next year's trip. They would like to keep the same number of days for the trip, but add a couple of days in New York City at the end. They would spend two days and two nights there, from Wednesday afternoon to Friday afternoon, ending with a Broadway show. In order to do that, they would have to give up something else. He said they could possibly leave out Richmond and Williamsburg, and adjust some stops in D.C. They will try to work Monticello in there, because they would hate to give that up. The board gave the okay for Stevens and Aaron Mensink to pursue the option.

Fall Sports

Athletic Director Jane Montgomery recommended the hire of Travis Malley for the volleyball B-squad coach. Brenda Ryan will be coaching junior high volleyball, but they are still short one coach for junior high.

Montgomery explained she has still not heard from Dover-Eyota about next year's girls basketball schedule, and she is also looking at Rochester Christian. Other than those two, she now has 15 confirmed varsity games, which she thinks is a lot. For the ninth graders, she has eight confirmed games, and some of those girls will also be playing varsity. For the 7-8 graders, there are 23 confirmed games.

Montogmery also mentioned the boys golf team won their conference with a 8-0 record. They also, for the first time, won the conference tournament, with seven kids going to sections after the recent sub-section tournament.

Other Business in Brief

During his Principal's report, Heath Olstad said more than $41,000 was given out in local scholarships to graduating seniors at the awards ceremony May 23.

Dean Chris Mensink mentioned there were 46 students given kindergarten assessments for next year.

Ten additional days were approved for Dean Chris Mensink, to compensate for summer meetings and work during the summer.

The June board meeting was changed to June 21 at 6:30 p.m. in Preston.

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