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R-P District tries for optimism during rough financial times

Fri, Apr 24th, 2009
Posted in Education

After about 45 minutes of principal, superintendent and community education reports, the Rushford-Peterson school board got to its business during the April 20 monthly meeting.

During the reports, superintendent Chuck Ehler repeatedly thanked student winners in events such as speech, Knowledge Bowl, spring sports, and even horse-judging, "for representing Rushford-Peterson in such a positive manner."

The board accepted resignations from Carolyn Johnson (lunchroom) and assistant football coach, Glen Bernard.

Bernard has been with the district since 1974. Ehler offered his thanks and recognition for Bernard's years of service.

"It's not the wins and losses," Ehler said of Bernard. "It's the impact he's had on our student athletes."

The board also accepted a leave of absence request from Emily Johnson and approved hiring Luke Rye as assistant football coach.

Community Education director, Beth Theede, reported that the district's Lille By Preschool recently met and exceeded its goal of "increasing enrollment of 3 & 4 year olds" by more than doubling enrollment for next year.

Following the meeting, the board and superintendent had scheduled an open community forum to review the state of funding and a facilities update.

Despite all the doom and gloom in the funding arena, or maybe because of it, Ehler is proposing a Facilities Task force to be comprised of parents, community members, staff members and students.

Applications for those wishing to volunteer were available at the meeting and can still be obtained through the district office.

Ehler had a presentation prepared for the open forum that updated citizens on the American Recovery Package and what it would mean for R-P.

Unfortunately, construction money was removed from the package, dashing hopes of seeking funding for a new school building.

The district will receive a total of $176,786 in "stimulus" funds over the next two years. Half must go into the general fund and half to new initiatives, according to Ehler.

Ehler discussed the uncertainty of state funding and how the Legislative timing is unfortunate for local planning processes.

There is always hope, however. According to Ehler, Congressman Tim Walz "remains a strong advocatefor Rushford-Peterson, as well as for education" and is championing our New School Initiative by helping to connect us with potential funding."

The next step, according to Ehler, is to complete a required "Review and Comment" Process in addition to applying for the rare and elusive "Cooperative Facilities Grant."

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