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Fillmore Central School Board takes action on items discussed at special meeting

Thu, Dec 24th, 2009
Posted in Education

The night after their special meeting was held to discuss restructuring their administration, the Fillmore Central School Board made some decisions that will mean changes at the school. They are also looking to the future at other possible changes that will be part of the $200,000 they need to cut from their budget this next year.

Board member Craig Britton made a motion to approve the discussed administration changes. Starting next school year, the superintendent position will be half-time. There will be one principal for grades K-12, and one full-time Dean of Students. This will eliminate the principal position that Superintendent Myrna Luehmann currently has and save some money.

The board also approved a motion to start negotiations with Luehmann to take the half-time superintendent position for one year. Luehmann has expressed an interest in working only part-time for the district for one more year. The negotiations committee will also be talking with Heath Olstad about the K-12 principal position.

Board member John Torgrimson said he was very much influenced by listening to Olstad the night before. Olstad believed the idea was feasible, and said that he, Luehmann and Dean of Students Chris Mensink all work very well together. Chairperson Sue Sikkink agreed, and said the three of them would likely let the board know if things weren't working out.

Britton added that there was no reluctance on their part, and that everybody was positive about the change. "I put a lot of faith in our administration," said Britton. "I think they do a great job."

Torgrimson agreed with Britton about the administration but added they should look at the long term. He was supportive of Luehmann staying for another year, but would like the board to hire a superintendent after her that would be a long-term option.

The board also directed the administration to look into a couple more options. They will be looking at the idea of moving the seventh and eighth graders to the high school in Harmony as far as the potential savings and the logistics. They will also be looking at he feasibility of moving the Root Rover Program into one of the district buildings to save on rent money.

Audit Report

The audit report was presented by Steve Salveson from Smith, Schafer & Associates. Salveson presented slides that took the audience through a slide show summary of their findings. He explained the Average Daily Membership of the district and how things have changed over the years. Enrollment dropped 17 students since last year.

Salveson also discussed the revenues for the year. State aid had gone down some, but property taxes went up a little from last year. In all, they are down $200,000 in revenue.

The balance in the general fund is up $271,000 because they are spending under budget and the increase in property taxes.

The daycare is still not quite covering itself financially, but Salveson said it is getting closer. Community service revenue was up but daycare expenditures were also up. The food service costs are equal to the revenue.

Salveson suggested the district continue to watch the numbers and the spending. He said the general fund unreserved balance as of June 30, 2009, was 10 percent of current expenditures. It is recommended to keep that number around 16 percent.

During 2009, the district refunded the 2001 building bonds, which saved the district 1.5 percent in interest and approximately $114,000.

Torgrimson commented that the district has been creative and done a good job dealing with their expenditures and their cuts, which has been difficult. He said the general fund unreserved balance is at 10 percent, and the school has never before been there. He would like to see them keep going in that direction.

Sikkink thanked Kathy Whalen, Darla Ebner and Luehmann for their efficiency in dealing with the finances.

Teacher Contract

The board approved the Master Agreement for Education Minnesota- Fillmore Central for 2009-2011. Ross Kiehne, who is on the negotiations committee, thanked the teachers for their cooperation, and said the meetings went very well. The contract had some language changes and clarifications. There was also a health insurance change. Teachers will also get paid each month in the summer instead of a lump sum in June. For the wages, teachers will not get a cost of living raise, but will maintain their steps and levels for their years of service and their education. For teachers who have been there a long time and are no longer part of the steps, they will receive a stipend on top of their salary. Chair person Sue Sikkink said they made it fair by making sure every teacher received something.

"Race to the Top" Grant

Luehmann explained to the board a federal grant program called "Race to the Top." The program is a competitive grant between states, and only ten states will receive the money. According to Luehmann, there are a lot of stipulations and guidelines, and it is very complicated. The deadline for the application is January 30.

Luehmann and other members of the faculty and administration have participated in "webinars" and teleconferences regarding this grant program.

Luehmann added that this program does not have the support of Education Minnesota. Districts can opt into the Minnesota application before January 30, and can always back out if they change their mind. The board agreed to the application.

Luehmann said they don't know exactly how much money will be given out, but it might be about $80,000 a year for four years. She also said that Minnesota has a good chance of receiving the grant money, since they already have many of the regulations in place that are required.

Other Business

Nobody from the community came to speak about the tax levy for the Truth in Taxation hearing. Luehmann said she was pleased with the five percent decrease in the levy and that there would be no increase for taxpayers. The board approved the 2009 Payable 2010 tax levy at $1,487,852.04, which is a 5.04 decrease from last year.

A resignation from Sandy Hurley was approved. Hurley has been a lead teacher in the daycare since it opened in 2004.

The board also approved the following items:

• the hire of a Title I paraprofessional, Amy Benson, for the 5th and 6th grade Title I program;

• an open enrollment request from a family in Wykoff;

• a quick-claim deed for one-fourth acre of land in Fountain discovered to belong to the Harmony district;

• a resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of General Obligation Alternative Facilities Bonds; and

• the AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) Improvement Plan adjusted for 2008-2009.

The January meeting was moved to January 25 at 7 p.m. at the high school in Harmony.

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