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R-P looks at ways to cut costs

Fri, May 23rd, 2008
Posted in Education

RUSHFORD - With the word "recession" on everyone's mind, and record prices on goods like gasoline and groceries, school districts all over are looking for ways to tighten budgets that already have no wiggle room.

In his first year at R-P, Superintendent Chuck Ehler's tenure has been marked by his cost-saving efforts, from refinancing the school's lease agreement, to renting laptop computers from WSU rather than buying new, to adopting a conservative policy regarding snow days.

With recent news items featuring drastic moves in other districts, like going to a four day week instead of a five day week, board chair John Nitecki couldn't help but ask Ehler at the end of the meeting about the R-P budget. How does it look for next year, he wanted to know?

Ehler paused, then said that he and his office staff are "confident that with the cost-saving measures already in place, the district will be within the parameters of our funding."

Earlier in the meeting Ehler presented another cost-savings to the board in the form of a new carrier for property, liability and workman's compensation insurance. Without changing the coverage, Ehler was able to obtain a policy for $37,897, a substantial savings over the previous policy of $66,636. The board voted to support the change.

Renting Land?

Another issue before the board was a request by district residents Tim and Karen Wilkemeyer to rent a small parcel of school land behind their home to accommodate their home daycare business.

The rental of school property for various reasons, including agriculture, has been discussed at recent meetings as another way of bringing some extra revenue into the district.

The Wilkemeyers' property lies at the corner of Hanover Court and Eiken Drive, next to the 17 acres that the school owns near the football field. The area is currently rented by the district's FFA program which hires a local farmer to plant it-this year in soybeans. The proposed rental would cut a square into that field, extending the Wilkemeyer's back yard to create a play space for daycare children.

Neighbors Brenda and John Erdmann and Cherie McRaven appeared before the board to raise objections to the potential rental.

"I don't believe the school district should get into the rental business," said Brenda Erdmann. "You're opening yourself up to a whole Pandora's box."

Erdmann raised the possibility that others' whose yards border the school may decide they'd like to rent land, too, which could create a troublesome situation for the district.

MacRaven agreed and also expressed concern for the safety of the children from chemicals in the surrounding field, as well as from traffic.

The board tabled any action until the May 28 special meeting to allow further investigation by board members.

New Principal

While progress has been made in narrowing the field of high school principal applicants, Ehler reported that the hiring committee was not yet ready to make a recommendation. He requested a special meeting for Wednesday, May 28, 6:00, to present the board with a candidate.

Other Business

In other business, the board-

• accepted the retirements of long-term art teacher Sandra Jeresek and paraprofessional Barb Mensink, and commended them both for their commitment to the district.

• accepted the resignation of Jordan Donnebauer, ag instructor and Environthon advisor, who has found a teaching position closer to his Wisconsin home.

• formed a committee of Roger Metz, John Nitecki, and Eric Thompson to conduct the annual superintendent evaluation.

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