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Rushford-Peterson School Board: Superintendent Ehler at work at R-P

Fri, Jul 20th, 2007
Posted in Education

New superintendent Charles Ehler hit the ground running as he started his tenure at Rushford -Peterson and took part in his first board meeting July 16. Calmly decisive, Ehler was ready with a recommendation to hire a combination elementary and middle school principal, stressing that he wanted the principal to be in both buildings every day. In order to provide some flexibility to negotiate, Ehler asked the board to allow some latitude in benefits for the position. The board approved a salary of between $72,000 and $75,000, with third tier family health insurance (consistent with the insurance provided to Mr. Ehler). The principal will be offered a 212-day contract, up ten days from the previous elementary principal contract due to the increased workload of the middle school. Ehler informed the board he and several staff members would conclude interviews with the three candidates for the position by week's end. He did not disclose the names of the applicants in a effort to protect their current positions. Teacher Rod Anderson will continue to serve as the lead teacher at the middle school, receiving $5,100 for the additional responsibilities.

Ehler confidently requested a waiver for a variance for his Minnesota Superintendent's license. Explaining that he had originally received his six-year license from Winona State, but had allowed it to lapse, Ehler told the board he had met with Dr. Lee Gray of WSU and has a panel review scheduled for early December. The variance should be acted upon in mid-August. Since Ehler has the necessary hours documented, he foresees no problems and assured the board he would "work intensely" with WSU.

In a discussion of Health and Safety projects for the coming year, Ehler showed he'd done his homework, knowledgeably referring to the needs of both buildings. As the board considered the best possible funding of the removal and replacement of asbestos tiles in the elementary classrooms, Ehler offered to check on the procedures for health and safety levies, planning to report back to the board in August. The board approved the Health and Safety attachment 99 so it could be submitted to meet the state deadline; in the future, the board can still modify the attachment as needed.

As the board completed the second reading of the Facility Use Policy, Ehler pointed out changes he felt necessary such as naming the superintendent as the person who would grant approval for facility use, and authorizing the elementary/middle school principal and the superintendent as well as the high school principal to use the facilities for school purposes. Ehler questioned some of the fees set for the use of ball fields; up to this time no groups have paid any fees. He stressed ensuring that both communities be treated the same. Board Chairman John Nitecki clarified, "We want to be community minded. We don't want to cause a rift with the communities."

Board member Daniel Munson opined, "This needs a complete rewrite." Ultimately, the board tabled the policy issue until Ehler has had an opportunity to get input from community groups.

As the meeting wound down, Ehler informed the board he was in the process of contacting families living in the district, but currently enrolled outside of the district. Ehler called it fact finding only and said he hoped to learn what motivated the families in their decisions. He expressed his view that the open enrollment turns into a "recruitment process" and went on, "It would be easier in the long run to declare a truce!"

Expressing the board's support of Ehler's plans, a smiling Chair Nitecki then welcomed Ehler to the board and declared he looked forward to working with Ehler in the future.

Other business

Other business conducted by the board included:

• hiring elementary special education aide Lynn Hinz, early childhood special education aides Lori Haugen and Alison Kjos, and middle school volleyball coach Leah Dessner after ascertaining an appropriate interviewing process had been followed;

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