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Fillmore Central refinances building bonds

Fri, Jan 30th, 2009
Posted in Education

The Fillmore Central School Board met for the first time in 2009 on Tuesday night. Pictured above are (left to right): John Torgrimson, Sue Sikkink, Craig Britton, Ross Kiehne, Deb Ristau, Jim Love, and Sue Ostrom.

HARMONY - Fillmore Central's new school board passed a resolution involving the sale of general obligation bonds. Money from the bonds will refinance $1,395,000 in debt service on the elementary school. The bonding will reduce the tax levy by $70,000 per year.

Jim Schmidt from Springsted Bonding was at the meeting to explain the "trigger" resolution. "Instead of setting a sale date, we will set parameters that will trigger a sale," said Schmidt. Passing the resolution gave Superintendent Myrna Luehmann and Business Manager Kathy Whalen the authority to sell the bonds when those criteria are met. The board will then approve it at the following meeting.

Schmidt explained that the market is currently very unpredictable, and this way they can monitor it. If the criteria are not met before the sunset date of March 27, the resolution will die. Schmidt felt certain that the sale could be made very soon.

The key parameters are that the sale must save the district at least $70,000 in net savings. The sale must also have a true interest of 3.25-percent or lower per annum.

Schmidt stressed that the $70,000 savings is a direct savings to taxpayers, as it will reduce future levies. They already have an underwriter lined up for the bonds.



Chair person Sue Sikkink recommended the board approve the renewal of Luehmann's Superintendent/K-8 Principal contract for another year. She would keep the salary and stipend the same and add the 403B benefit to her contract.

Board member John Torgrimson said that he was expecting the contract to go through the Negotiations Committee like all teacher contracts do. He stressed that he felt Luehmann was doing a great job, but was concerned about the process.

Sikkink didn't believe that the Superintendent contract had ever gone through the Negotiations Committee before.

"I don't think there's an issue here," she said. "She wants to continue another year."

Board member Deb Ristau asked if in the future the committee would look at the contract. There was some question about how the job will be replaced whenever Luehmann retires.Sikkink explained that in the contract there is a letter of understanding that keeps the two jobs separate for when that day comes. The board will have to decide at that point whether they will fill the position with another Superintendent/Principal combination, or hire them separately.

Torgrimson also brought up concerns about the stipend, which was originally supposed to be for 12 months for merging the responsibilities of the two positions. Torgrimson felt that continuing that for another year is the same as a salary increase. The stipend is $1,000 a month, and at $12,000 a year, that would be an increase of approximately 16 percent. His concern was that in these economic times, the increase should be reconsidered.

"I don't see how there's an increase when she's making the same as last year," said Sikkink. She added that even with the stipend, Luehmann's superintendent salary is on the low end of other superintendents in the area.

The contract was approved, with Ristau and Torgrimson voting against it.

Luehmann stated that she has had a lot of help and support from Dean of Students Chris Mensink, High School Principal Heath Olstad, and the staff in general, and she is very appreciative.

New Members and


New board members Ross Kiehne and Jim Love, along with returning board member Deb Ristau, took the oath of office for their new four-yeear terms on the board.

For the first meeting of 2009, the board also did a lot of the yearly organizing. Sue Sikkink was voted the Chairperson again this year, with Ristau being the vice-chair. Craig Britton will be the clerk, Love the vice-clerk and Torgrimson the treasurer. Board salaries will remain the same this year.

Committee assignments were made for the new year. A budget committee, made up- of board members Sikkiink and Torgrimson and staff were created. The committee will monitor budgetary materials. The board designated the official depository the same as last year with First SE Bank in Harmony, First State Bank in Fountain, F&M Community Bank in Preston and MSDLAF. The official newspapers are the Republican Leader, News-Record and the Fillmore County Journal. Knutson, Flynn & Deans are the official school district legal counsel.

Other Business

• Band teacher Lane Powell recently received a Teacher of the Month Award from the Rochester Post Bulletin. They were at the High School recently to give him his award and an article about him will be in a future edition of the Post Bulletin.

The board received audit bids, and approved Smith Schafer and Associates for the next two years. The cost is $14,450 for 2009 and $15,100 for 2010.

• Drivers Ed. costs were increased from $325 to $330 for Fillmore Central students and $380 for out-of-district students.

• Brenda Ryan was approved to coach B squad softball, and David Broadwater will be coaching Jr. High baseball.

• Mensink reported that during a recent milk cap and label drive, the K-4 students brought in 52,000 milk caps and labels.

The board will be looking at two different options for the 2009-2010 school calendar. One option will start school after Labor Day, which will be September 8. School will then go until June 4. Luehmann is hoping that state legislature will allow them to start school before Labor Day.

The February meeting was changed to Wednesday, February 18 at 6 p.m.

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