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Future of Root River Education District is up in the air

Fri, Feb 23rd, 2007
Posted in Education

HARMONY - Fillmore Central Superintendent Myrna Luehmann gave the School Board a report about the recent status of the Root River Education District (RRED) at their meeting on Monday, February 19. According to Luehmann, the RRED gives Fillmore Central a lot of services, including Special Ed. services, speech, language, deaf and hard of hearing, and services for children birth through age three. The RRED also has a day treatment school in Harmony, the only one in the area.

The RRED has always consisted of Lanesboro, Kingsland, Mabel-Canton, Fillmore Central and Chatfield schools. In November, Mabel-Canton and Chatfield decided they would rather be part of the Hiawatha Valley district, which has several clusters in southeast Minnesota, and includes Spring Grove, Caledonia, Wabasha, Winona, and Rushford-Peterson schools, among others. Lanesboro later decided to withdraw as well. In addition, Mary Rae, the RRED Director, will be retiring at the end of the school year.

"We will lose a third of our numbers without those districts," said Luehmann. She added that it was not feasible for Kingsland and Fillmore Central to continue on as the RRED due to the small numbers, and that Hiawatha Valley district is not willing to take these two schools into their district.

According to Luehmann, there are a few things that could happen now. The RRED could disband, and everyone go their own way. There could also be a year of transition for the RRED, or some restructuring. Luehmann spoke to someone from the Zumbro district, which includes Stewartville, Hayfield, Blooming Prairie, Triton, Byron, Pine Island and Kasson-Mantorville. The Zumbro District is interested in taking FC and Kingsland, but the change cannot be made before the end of the year on July 1.

"I think what will happen is that we will have a year of transition, when we can take the time to get things wrapped up with Root River Ed. District," stated Luehmann. She added that RRED staff must be notified by March 10 if they will be disbanding by July 1.

There will be another meeting the first week in March. The board agreed to let Luehmann make the recommendation that she feels is in the best interests of the students.

Tennis Courts

The City of Preston has been having trouble finding a suitable location for the tennis courts they would like to construct. According to board member John Torgrimson, the Preston Tennis Committee has looked at a few sites, including near the swimming pool and on County Rd. 12, and there have been problems at each of the sites. At the location near the pool, there is not a lot of room, and the courts would have to be placed end to end. The city has inquired whether the school would be willing to either lease or purchase a half an acre on the Preston site near the ball field. The area is accessible by road, and a parking lot could be shared with the ball field.

Luehmann said the P.E. teachers were not too happy with the idea, as they were afraid that the baseball fence may someday be made permanent, and part of the proposed land could be the 7th grade football field. They were also concerned they wouldn't have much room left for P.E.

The board agreed that they would be better off selling the land as opposed to leasing it due to liability issues. It would also have to benefit the school as well. No decision was made at the meeting.

Audit Quote

Lloyd Johnson attended the board meeting to speak about the quote he gave the district for his audit work. His bid was the only one received. The quote was for two years, and the fees have gone up $2,000 from the previous contract. He explained the need to cover operating costs as well as more disclosures and paper work required. He added that he still charges much less than bigger city firms, and that he currently does audit work for six districts and nine cities in the area.

The board accepted the bid of $8,555 for the next two years.

Other business

• Jackie Whitacre and Sara Blessing will be co-coaching the spring musical this year, which will be "The Sound of Music." Whitacre explained that it costs around $1,000 to get started with the play, with $400 refundable. A lot of the money goes for royalties. High school kids will be cast first, then middle school kids as needed. A friend of Whitacre's will be lending the school all of the costumes and most of the set. The musical will take place May 11-12 in Harmony.

• Applications for the Custodial Supervisor position have come in and interviewing will be done soon. The person hired for the job will help with the hiring of the rest of the custodial staff. Applications are available on the school's web site for those positions.

• Luehmann acknowledged all of the people who have made donations, given grants or raised money for the school. She has a list several pages long of money raised and donated just since July 1. The list includes grants, Cash Back for Schools, Target credit card donations, food labels and milk caps, supplies given by local churches and many anonymous donations.

• Aaron Mensink was hired for the 7-8 baseball coach for the spring. There are approximately 20 kids signed up.

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