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R-P school officials meet with Walz regarding funding

Fri, Dec 19th, 2008
Posted in Education

Tough times call for tough measures, and the Rushford-Peterson school district is going on the offensive to seek school funding, while at the same time practicing good old-fashioned belt-tightening.

Superintendent Chuck Ehler, board member Daniel Munson, and community education director Beth Theede met with Congressman Tim Walz last week to make an early bid on potential funds involved in an economic stimulus/public works package being put together by President-elect Obama.

The school board learned of the meeting at its regular monthly meeting, December 15.

Ehler had drafted a letter to present to Walz in which he mentions ongoing flood recovery and that "updating our school facilities is a priority to our residents, as indicated in the April 2008 needs assessment conducted by the Minnesota Design Team."

The letter outlines a building and remodeling project that, if funded by the district alone, would result in 53.45% tax rate for debt service, "a challenge for any community."

The letter seeks "outside funding for construction and remodeling of our facilities to provide necessary services to our students and community members...(as) an example of investment in rural development that empowers all community members for lifelong learning."

The letter provides seven bulleted items that demonstrate need for this project, including the fact that R-P utilizes one of the oldest school facilities in the state (1906) and that the flood event in 2007 "exposed structural, environmental, and energy usage issues in our buildings."

"It's a long shot," Ehler told the board, "but we've gotta take it."

Munson characterized Walz as "encouraging and supportive" during the meeting. Ehler said he will follow up this meeting with a letter to Governor Pawlenty.

Ehler had also invited state representatives Sharon Ropes and Greg Davids to attend the board meeting. Davids declined because of schedule conflicts. Ropes was expected, but by the time of adjournment at 6:45 p.m. had not arrived.

Belt tightening

Funding for a custodial position through Workforce Development will end December 30. Diane Johnson was replacing Roger Boyum who was on leave following an accident last fall. Ehler proposed that as a cost-saving measure, the district not replace Johnson.

The move will save a total of $19,321,11 by June 2010, according to Ehler, who also announced a plan to clean classrooms on an every other day basis while continuing to have trash removed, hallways, bathrooms and classroom carpets cleaned on a daily basis.

As another cost saving measure, Ehler recommended that the district not send board members to the annual Minnesota School Board conference in January.

Board chairman John Nitecki complimented Ehler on his vigilance in looking for ways the district can save money.

Ehler replied that during these challenging times, he wishes to implement "every measure possible before impacting curriculum" in any way.

On the plus side, the district received a technology grant from the Arlin Falck Foundation in the amount of $5,575 that will be used to purchase three new computerized white boards and three LCD projectors for classrooms.

The district also received a grant from the Minnesota State High School league foundation for $1,504 and a donation of $375 from Alpha Delta Kappa-Alpha Epsilon of Wykoff.

Other items, the board:

• accepted the resignations of Kathy Wade, co-head volleyball coach, and Korrie Gilliland of Kids' Club.

• certified the maximum amount of $808,194.20 for the 2008 Levy, payable 2009.

• -approved Ehler's recommendation that the district pursue utilizing Q-Comp money for faculty salaries now that the funds for Alternative Comp will be discontinued.

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