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R-P School Board hopeful, yet realistic on budget

Fri, Feb 27th, 2009
Posted in Education

At the district's school board meeting on Monday, February 23, the board discussed their recent meeting with Senator Sharon Erickson Ropes and Representative Greg Davids, where the district was essentially asked to prepare the school budget, with the possibility of cuts in state funding.

School Superintendent Chuck Ehler called the meeting "a good exchange and opportunity" to hear first hand some of what's happening at the state level in regards to what they are encountering with the struggling economy. Fearful of a scramble, he expressed a "desire to be proactive" to ensure that the district doesn't "get caught with costs we can't absorb."

Ehler admitted that asking the administration to make those preparations, not knowing what state funds the district will receive is a "scary proposition." The district intends to approach the possibility of budget cuts with care and caution. It was stressed that despite economic strains the district would maintain good, sound educational practice.

Washington, DC

Ehler's upcoming trip to Washington, D.C., along with Congressman Tim Walz, was a source of pride for the board. The superintendent thanked Walz, a former educator, and emphasized that he believes Walz to be sensitive to the district's needs. He continued, saying the Congressman's actions spoke "highly of his love and commitment to education." While the trip no doubt brings excitement for the district, Ehler expressed concern with this trip over a possible "false hope of getting a new school."

The topic of a new school has long been talked about, but Ehler emphasized that there would be no guarantees of such an outcome. On a lighter note, the superintendent proudly announced that he would be bringing letters that students had written to President Obama along to Washington.


The district will be receiving funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Chairman Nitecki stressed that the board not forget why the funding was available and an avoidance of having the funding, which is to be used for Title 1 and IDEA, be absorbed into the general fund. Ehler assured the board that the funding would be "used prudently and in the manner that it was intended." This funding does come with some "strings attached," but the administration pledged to keep the board up to date on changes.

FEMA projects

Wrapping up the details of last month's topic of FEMA Mitigation Projects, it was noted that the roofing and parking lot projects, which were stalled due to weather, have resumed. Bids are to be awarded to Blitz Construction of Byron in the amount of $47,209.00 (site drainage) and Haugstad Construction of Lanesboro in the amount of $47,756.00 (parking lot). The work on the drainage issue will commence June 1st with the subsequent paving of the parking lot to conclude no later than August 20th so as not to interfere with the start of the school year.

No Child Left Behind

Another notable segment of the meeting included a formal resolution for the Federal Advocacy Resolution. Minnesota Association of School Board Members (MASA) has asked boards to approve the resolution asking for changes to No Child Left Behind. Nitecki was "surprised" to find the resolution presented in such a formal manner, but stressed that he was an advocate of changes. Aware of discrepancies, Ehler noted that the passing of the resolution would "better align the needs of our students." The resolution was passed unanimously.

As always, student achievement was a source of pride for the district. Notable successes included:

• Student community service, in the form of Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart, which to date has raised 6,300 for the American Heart Association. Special thanks to Theresa Brown and Gary Wade.

• Tony Becker, son of Henry and Jackie Becker, has been named the Triple AAA (Academics, Arts, & Athletics) winner for section 1A. Ehler described him as a "model student" and noted the district was thrilled to have him represent R-P schools.

• Jaci Adcock and Chelsea Alford were recognized for their advancement in the Poetry Out Loud regional contest. Adcock will be attending the state competition March 9th.

• 9th Grade Knowledge Bowl team participated in the regional contest earning a 7th place finish. They received recognition for placing 2nd in events leading up to the final competition.

• 5th grader Katie Klungvedt represented the district at the regional spelling bee competition and earned a 2nd place finish.

• Jade Pelzel was acknowledged for her outstanding accomplishment in breaking the school's scoring record in girl's basketball. She is currently the all-time scoring leader for the season. Congratulations to Jade, her coaches, and teammates.

• LARP Wrestling team is the recipient of an academic team award being deemed successful for collectively maintaining a GPA set by the state league.

• Jr. High wrestlers were awarded a sportsmanship award based on their outstanding conduct at a recent tournament.

• Dance team was recognized for their participation and 7th place performance at the sectional contest.

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