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R-P Superintendent gives "generosity" report

Fri, Dec 21st, 2007
Posted in Education

RUSHFORD - "We continue to be impressed and thankful for the generosity people have shown to our school and community," said Superintendent Chuck Ehler at the regular meeting of the R-P school board, December 17. "It's overwhelming."

Ehler's comments came with a written "Generosity Management" report that he presented to the board.

The community of Rushford has been the recipient of various donations since the August flood, but as the Christmas season arrived, more and more donations poured in, particularly for children.

The report shows that many donations are from local groups. For example, La Crescent Elementary School donated new snowpants and boots to children whose homes and belongings were affected by the flood.

Numerous local groups participated in Project Santa on December 15 that distributed Christmas gifts to be given to 360 children.

Byron Elementary School donated complete turkey dinners to 30 local families during the week of Thanksgiving.

Lille By Preschool was the recipient of books, teacher resources and money from the Rainbow School in Rochester, while 80 bicycles arrived from Alexandria, Minnesota, to be distributed next spring.

Girl Scouts from Austin and Kasson donated to and participated in the annual Santa's Workshop. So did the Winona Community Foundation by providing 300 new books to flood-affected children.

But national companies have responded to needs in Rushford, too. Three hundred ninety-one pairs of Nike shoes were delivered to all students in grades 5-12 on December 20. The students had all been measured for shoes by the Nike company earlier in the month to insure accuracy of sizes.

The Aeropostle clothing company delivered 300 "high-end quality" teddy bears to elementary students, according to principal Joel Hovland.

And speaking of gratitude, the board learned that teacher negotiations concluded with the faculty ratifying the proposed contract the previous Friday. Unlike last year where the district was assessed a fine by the state for missing the January 15 settlement deadline, the district was well within the specified time this year.

With a long history in education, Ehler has been involved with negotiations before, but never as a superintendent.

"I appreciated the cordial atmosphere and express my gratitude to Tom and Judy Vix and Jim Reinhardt (faculty representatives)," Ehler said. "We were able to have open dialogue, and I found there was a real appreciation for each others' perspectives."

Assisting Ehler in negotiating for the district were board members Roger Metz, Greg Smith, and Eric Thompson.

The total package includes a 2.77% increase for this school year and a 3.37 increase for the 2008-09 school year.

In addition, language was added regarding snow days: the first two of the year will not need to be made up. If there's a third, it will be made up on Easter Monday. Any snow days after Easter will not be made up because it will be late in the school year.

Also, 9th grade girls and boys basketball coaches were added back to the extracurricular activities as long as there is enough participation to warrant it (minimum of 8 students for each). These positions had fallen to budget cuts approximately five years ago when the district was in Standard Operating Debt.

In other business

• The Christmas Grinch struck by way of a malfunctioning boiler that will need to be replaced in the Rushford building. Ehler reported that a best case scenario would set repair costs at around $3,000 with a worst case of $15,000. According to Ehler, the boiler in question is a back-up boiler, and it is imperative to have it in working order at this time of year.

• Ehler reported that he'd contacted Audio Sound of Winona to upgrade the sound system in the gymnasium for approximately $2,300.

• The board approved the hiring of Lucas Rye as a middle school special education teacher. Rye will work with an R-P student who was receiving special education services at Hokah and La Crescent until those services were discontinued.

• The board agreed to move January and February meetings to second Mondays since third Mondays fall on holidays in both months.

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