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Fillmore Central School Board makes changes to cell phone and other policies

Fri, Jun 27th, 2008
Posted in Education

HARMONY - Fillmore Central School Board members went over some changes in staffing, handbook policies, and prices for the 2008-2009 school year at their regular meeting on June 23.

High School Principal Heath Olstad discussed some of the changes for the high school handbook, including some minor changes with required classes and electives. The class of 2012, which is the incoming freshmen, will be required to remain on campus during their lunch until they are seniors. Every year the freshmen will be required to remain on campus. Another change was that if a student is unable to go on the senior trip due to receiving a consumption, their money will not be refunded.

A major issue lately has been the use of cell phones during school. Olstad will be changing the wording in the handbook to read "electronic equipment," which will cover cell phones and mp3 players. Olstad felt that cell phones could be allowed during the open lunch hour, but not in the hallways between classes, and they should be left in lockers or turned off if in pockets.

Board member Sue Ostrom mentioned that parents should not be calling their children on their cell phones, either, even though many parents like to stay connected with their child.

Superintendent and K-8 Principal Myrna Luehmann went over some changes to the K-8 handbook. She said the committee felt that students should not be allowed to use their cell phones during the lunch period. She said that some teachers have a basket in the front of the room for students to place their phones during class time. At a faculty meeting that is coming up, the teachers will discuss the best option for dealing with the phones and try to remain consistent.

Other handbook changes included eliminating a couple of late bus routes to Greenleafton and Fountain, changing the food a la carte to only grades 6-8 instead of 5-8, and every student getting mid-quarter reports.


Contracts for the next year were approved for Micki Breitsprecher, Alice Bigalk and Jessica Powell. Breitsprecher is the Director of Special Ed. and the Root River Program. Bigalk will be working as the Transitions Specialist for Special Ed. students at .3 FTE. Powell will be the Elementary Music teacher and do band lessons at the Middle School. Luehmann explained that Powell is working on a music addition to her licensure, and will be fully licensed by the end of the year. She is being hired on a variance. Jackie Whitacre will be taking the English position at the Middle School.

The following teachers were given tenure status: Vicki Eide, Danette Grimsrud, Cal Zutz, Lisa Wilhelm, Aaron Mensink, Sara Blessing, Tim Ostrom and Gerrie Himlie.

The board accepted resignations from Barb Aggen, a Special Ed. paraprofessional; Martha Stellmaker, a van driver and daycare worker; and Ron McAllister, custodian.

The district is now advertising for an Elementary Special Ed. teacher and a Title I teacher.

Prices and Fees

A lot of time was spent discussing what to do with the activity fees for next year. The board felt that raising the prices was necessary, as it hadn't been done for a few years, but didn't want to discourage people from going out for sports or other activities. Luehmann mentioned their policy that students who qualify for free lunches do not have to pay the activity fees, and those qualifying for reduced lunches will only pay half the fee. She said that many students have taken advantage of this in the past.

Board member John Torgrimson felt it was important to look at the reason for increasing the prices as it came no where close to covering activity costs. Olstad said it was important that they continue offering as much as they can to the students.

The board ultimately decided to increase the cost of sports from $45 to $50. The fee for other activities, such as speech, band, choir, Knowledge Bowl, cheerleading, and plays remained the same. The maximum family fee was increased from $180-$200. Sports passes for K-12 students were increased from $25 to $30, and the family pass was increased ten dollars to $130.

The board also went over certain pay rates for substitutes and kept everything the same as last year. The price of hot lunches went up ten cents at the high school and elementary, and fifteen cents at the middle school. Extra milk will cost 35 cents, and milk break costs for grades 1-8 went up to $35 a semester. The board approved the budget for Taher Food Services with these changes included.

Other Business

• Chairperson Sue Sikkink asked the board if they would like to reschedule a special meeting that was canceled earlier in the month. The meeting was to discus the job descriptions of Luehmann and Dean of Students Chris Mensink. Luehmann had recently sent board members full job descriptions, and Sikkink and other board members felt they were well written. Sikkink suggested having a special meeting three months after the start of the school year to see how things were going with the new positions.

Torgrimson asked if they could have it on the agenda sometime soon so it could be discussed at a regular meeting, adding that he has a few questions considering how the board will assess the the two jobs and what criteria they would use. The board agreed to put the item on the July agenda.

• The city of Harmony recently discovered that there is a lot near the football field that is owned by the school district. Harmony City Attorney Richard Nethercut approached Luehmann about the land as it abuts some commercial property that is being sold. In 1947 the city deeded the lot to the school for one dollar, although know one seems to know why. The lot is located in northeast Harmony, across from the tennis and basketball courts and is currently being used for a campground and being maintained by the city. There was some discussion about the adjacent business owners at P&H Implement and selling some of it to them.

The board tabled any decison on the matter pending discussin the matter with the city of Harmony.

• Olstad complimented the marching band and Lane Powell for their trip to Florida. The band was chosen out of several to play at Disneyworld and had fundraisers throughout the year in order to go. Olstad said it was a great opportunity for them.

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