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R-P School Board moves forward

Fri, Jul 23rd, 2010
Posted in Education

The transition process is underway between the district and new transportation provider Ready Bus Line. According to the district, the company has met with drivers and the application and hiring process has begun, including the hiring of former, long-time Bernard Bus driver Lyle Svenningson as the local site manager. In addition, Ready Bus Line is attempting to negotiate with Bernard Bus to rent the bus building located east of the school.

As with any change in a small town, rumors have begun to circulate in regards to student pickups by Ready Bus Line for the 2010-2011 school year. Superintendent Chuck Ehler acknowledged the initial concerns and set the record straight. Per Ehler, Ready Bus Line will continue current bus routes with some minor adjustments. Students outside of the district, as well as those within a two-mile radius of school who were picked up the previous year, will be receiving transportation. Also, arranged are pickups for students residing along Highway 43. Due to high traffic and concerned with safety, Ready Bus Line is looking at the possibility of designated pickup locations, off the main highway, for these students. There is one slight change in pickup times. According to Ehler, times will be cut back so students will not arrive at the school prior to 7:50 am each morning. He hopes to assure both families and the community that the district is looking diligently at the transition process to make it as smooth as possible.

With the conclusion of the MCAII testing, the district has shown marked improvement in the last year with only one area (6th Grade Reading) falling below proficiency levels. All other tested areas, which include math and reading for grades 3-11, scored either at or above state targets. Ehler believes this is an extremely fine representation of the district and shows its right on target.

Board member John Nitecki echoed the sentiment noting where the district was four years prior, with 9 of 14 sections failing proficiency. "It is a testament to administration and staff for their abilities, courage, and hard work. Keep up the good work."

That good work has been rewarded as Superintendent Ehler's contract has been renewed for three years. The contract remains much the same as the 2007-2010 contract with two notable changes. In the first, Ehler will see no change in pay for the 2010-2011 school year, but a 3.5% increase for the two subsequent years. Chairman Daniel Munson noted that the financial aspect of the contract was tricky as others on staff are feeling the effects of wage freezes. The board felt the superintendent should also feel the same effects. The other change is a severance pay package. According to the contract, should the superintendent either separate himself from the district or be terminated in the future, a one-time $5,000 severance package will be available at the conclusion of the contract.

The board thanked Ehler for his work the last three years and Nitecki quipped, "Hopefully the next years will be easier than your first three." With a chuckle from all, as well as a smile and a proverbial knock on wood from the superintendent, all agreed the last three years had been quite challenging for the superintendent and the district. Ehler indicated that he would welcome some calmness before thanking the board. "I extend my thanks for the recognition of growth and improvement. It's a matter of pride in our district and I'm excited to be a part of that. I look forward to three more solid years."

Other notables from the Monday, July 19th, meeting included hearty congratulations to the R-P Envirothon team and advisor Craig Colbenson. As recent state Envirothon champions, the team is headed to California July 31st for national competition. Comprised of Levi Brown, Carl Schiltz, Steve Koenen, Kevin O'Donnell, and Danielle Christian, the team would appreciate any donations to offset their travel costs.

The next regularly scheduled school board meeting is Monday, August 16th, at 6:30 p.m., in the high school biology room. The public is encouraged to attend.

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