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Fillmore Central school board reflects on cuts

Fri, Nov 27th, 2009
Posted in Education

The Fillmore Central School Board recently had a joint meeting with the Caledonia School Board about the possibility of sharing a superintendent in the future. Superintendent Myrna Luehmann said they are looking at ways to make cuts. At the meeting, the group discussed the pros and cons, but did not make any decisions.

Chairperson Sue Sikkink asked the board if they felt the need for a special meeting to discuss what they will do after Luehmann retires at the end of this year.

Board member Sue Ostrom asked if it would be possible to have Luehmann around for one more year. She added that she has some concerns about an agreement with Caledonia due to the distance and the unknowns.

Luehmann said she would be willing to work part-time next year, but only for one year, and not full-time. She added it would be nice to work on some unfinished business she has at the school, such as seeing that the RTI (Response to Intervention) Program gets on its feet.

John Torgrimson asked if they were going to discuss it right then, as it was not on the agenda. Also, there are two committees, the budget committee and negotiations committee, that need to look at the issue as well.

Right now Luehmann is working as both the superintendent and the K-8 principal, with the help of Dean of Students Chris Mensink. The board will need to discuss what their options are with or without Luehmann, as far as the budget goes, and the possibility of sharing a superintendent with another school.

Ross Kiehne also felt it should not be discussed that evening, as it was not on the agenda, and he would like to have input from other people.

Deb Ristau wanted to know what the reasons were for making a change, whether it was Luehmann leaving or the request from Caledonia.

Other board members were also unsure about sharing a superintendent with Caledonia, but they are keeping the option open for now. A special meeting will be held on December 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school media center. The board will listen to ideas and discuss their options and make their decision at the regular December meeting.

Auditor's report

The audit was completed recently, and the final report will be presented by the auditors at the December school board meeting. Luehmann said the general fund has increased $270,000, which is 10 percent of the operating costs. The auditors recommend being closer to 16 percent, but the numbers are getting better.

"We're moving in the right direction," said Luehmann.

Board member John Torgrimson, who is on the budget committee, said it was a pretty positive report. He added that the bookkeepers, Darla Ebner and Kathy Whalen, along with Luehmann, are doing a great job watching the money and the spending. He said the district has cut a half a million dollars in the last three years, and are looking at cutting another $200,000 next year.

Luehmann said there's no good news as far as funding from the state this next year. The stimulus package is gone, and there is nothing saving education from the chopping block.

Winter Coaches

Athletic Director Jane Montgomery reported that there are 13 girls in grades 7-8 in basketball, and there are 14 in grades 9-12. Two coaches had been hired, and there was question about whether they would need a third coach. Sikkink felt the numbers were not high enough for a third coach.

Board member Craig Britton disagreed. Board member Deb Ristau said the problem comes when the games are held in separate buildings. Both Ristau and Travis Malley have been volunteering some of their time to help out.

The board approved the hiring of another coach to cover 7th grade. One coach will cover 8th grade and assist with varsity, and the other will be with the varsity girls. Montgomery said she will be hiring Ristau.

There are 25 total students out for wrestling from Fillmore Central, Mabel-Canton, and Lanesboro. According to Montgomery, at least 10-12 of the kids are in seventh and eighth grade. Jim Love said in wrestling it is mostly one on one training with the kids, and it would be unfortunate if some kids were neglected because there weren't enough coaches. The board kept the number of coaches at three.

Torgrimson mentioned to Montgomery that all volunteers should be going through her. Montgomery said there is a new MSHSL rule that if a person helps out more than once, they must be a volunteer coach and have a background check done.

Principal Reports

High School Principal Heath Olstad reported the blood drive on October 30, which was sponsored by the National Honors Society, was very successful. There were 45 complete donors.

On November 18, 45 members of the Scholar Club received an award during a ceremony. The Scholar Club is for students with a GPA (Grade Point Average) of 3.5 or higher.

There will be a band and choir concert on December 7 at 7 p.m. at the high school.

Mensink reported the 7th grade field trip to Eagle Bluff Environmental Center was a great experience for all involved.

The Scholastic Book Fair at the elementary school raised $4,230 for new books for the library.

The One & Done Fundraiser at the middle school raised $14,416.90. Mensink said that participation in the fundraiser was great.

Land Transfer

Luehmann reported she had received a Quick Claim request from a lawyer regarding one-half of an acre of land east of Fountain that he felt belonged to the school. There is no record of this land ever belonging to the school district. They have checked with the Historical Society about this, and they are looking for the minutes from 1962 that shows District #65 was consolidated with the Harmony district. Luehmann is now waiting for more information from the lawyer.

Other Business

The Negotiations Committee has come up with a tentative agreement they are going to present to the teachers.

The board approved two open enrollment requests from families that have moved out of the district.

The board also approved the sports sharing agreement for wrestling with Mabel-Canton.

Jackie Whitacre was approved for the speech and one act play advisor.

The Truth-in-Taxation meeting will be held on December 22 at 6:01 p.m., right before the regular meeting.

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