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Frustration and pride for R-P School Board

Fri, May 22nd, 2009
Posted in Education

In a topic that was also recently present on the city council agenda, R-P Community Education director Beth Thede presented comments on the city's suggestion that Community Education absorb the summer ball schedule. The program has always been run by the city, albeit in a deficit, and the topic was of obvious urgency at the R-P school board meeting on May 17th.

Thede commented that Community Education has spent a "significant amount of time working with the city to come to an agreement" and that the department first "offered help months ago."

Board Chairman Greg Nitecki quickly made the clarification that "in some respects it was laid on the school as making this not happen. That was not the case." He went on to thank Thede and those in her department for "doing what they can."

Continuing on, Thede solidly listed the department's take as strictly a "triage point of view," focusing on "kids who haven't had the opportunity to play ball" in another venue.

Certainly the district would like to see the program continue, but Superintendent Chuck Ehler pointed out that the district, being already tightly budgeted and awaiting confirmation of funds for the 2009-2010 school year, would be "taking a cautious approach." Ehler did make it adamantly clear that the district would be "unequivocally unable to be financially committed."

While the district recognizes that the ball program is an immense benefit to the community, so much is unclear at this point. As one person put it, the issue comes "way too late in the ball game."

Tightening the purse strings

In certainly frustrating news for the district, as they attempt to budget the upcoming year while still in the dark about state funding, Ehler announced that the district's health insurance provider will be raising premiums, with the new rate effective September 1st. The 15-16% increase is similar to what's been seen in other districts.

The district, and admittedly Ehler, also has a high "frustration level" with the circumstances surrounding the elevators in the school. They are currently serviced by Minnesota Elevator and Ehler stated that he has "taken the initiative to explore" other service companies due to the current rate of charge which he found "offensive." One lift had given particular annoyance when the district went about maintaining current standards. Ehler, clearly irritated, said the lift "requires so many mandates that it is cost prohibitive." The district will be closing that particular lift indefinitely.

Middle School Issue

At one point during the meeting, Chairman Nitecki made references to the board about a dress code issue that occurred at the Middle School in recent weeks. Extremely vague, due to the public nature of the meeting and the privacy of those involved, Nitecki pointed out that the small town "rumor mill" had greatly exaggerated the issue, but that these "types of things" need to be brought to the attention of the district, investigated, worked on, and resolved. Nitecki said he didn't want the perception that the district was "sitting on its hands."

Ehler remarked that the issue has been "resolved with students, parents, and the district."

Creekside Park

An obvious highlight to the district was the participation of students and staff in the community building of a new playground structure at Creekside Park, which was damaged by flood waters in 2007. Ehler said it was "rewarding to be actively involved" and that the board should be "proud of the cooperation of the students and how the staff extended themselves." The district received numerous compliments on student conduct and work ethics from representatives from Leathers & Associates, the firm conducting the construction. Ehler also mentioned the involvement of Craig Colbenson and students Gretchen Hoff and Rachelle Ruberg who were instrumental in coordinating a schedule for students working at the park.

High School Principal Shane McBroom made a special comical nod to custodial staff which spent successive days dutifully cleaning up after students returning from working on the playground build during at least two rainy, muddy days.

Other Notables

Graduation will be held Sunday, May 24th, at 1:30 pm in the gymnasium.

The Knowledge Bowl Team placed 6th at the recent state competition. Students were present and recognized, as were team leaders who voiced their support and hope of the program continuing.

Congratulations to the Envirothon Team who finished 2nd in the recent competition.

Congratulations to the R-P Boys Golf Team who recently secured their place as 3 Rivers South Conference Champions.

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