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Rushford Peterson school board proceeds with cuts

Fri, May 7th, 2010
Posted in Education

A room full of determined parents and students. A stopwatch displayed on an overhead projection screen. At hand, the fate of five R-P staff members.

While this could have made for a tense gathering, the special meeting on Thursday, April 29th, proceeded in a methodical and straightforward manner. The regular April meeting only ten days earlier was anything but, with students and parents presenting long arguments in defense of industrial technology teacher Mark Winkels and agriculture instructor and FFA advisor Dawn Lubahn.

During the course of the twenty minute meeting, FFA president Kaitlyn Peterson was the only one to address the board, presenting a petition with the names of 63 students wanting to take ag classes next year. Board Chairman Dan Munson received the petition with polite gratitude, but nothing else was said on the matter before the board moved into voting on the proposed cuts.

The cuts come under some scrutiny from students and parents unhappy with a pre-registration process which took place at the district last fall. However, the district maintains that the cuts are the result of low enrollment numbers in the classes and a lack of secure funding from the state for some of the positions.

Superintendent Chuck Ehler noted, "It's time to evaluate what our particular needs are."

Staff members receiving termination are Lubahn (board member Greg Smith abstained in the roll-call voting); Emily Englehardt, high school math interventionist; Margaret Marklowitz, grade K-2 reading interventionist; and Tracy Janke, grade 3-5 reading interventionist.

Mark Winkels was put on unrequested leave. He is entitled to recall rights and future consideration will be based on licensure.

Also discussed at the meeting were the results of Ehler's April 30th review. The board felt he either met or exceeded expectation with some room for growth. They found Ehler highly accountable, innovative in approach, having a good grasp of technology, and tenacious in pursuing funds. Areas listed for improvement were in regards to working relationships and personal time management. Ehler's current contract is up in 2011.

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