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Rushford-Peterson School Board: Board exhibits sure signs of spring

Fri, Feb 23rd, 2007
Posted in Education

Quick-what do these three things have in common? Robins, the Twins opener, and the R-P school board prioritizing summer repair projects?

Answer: they're all signs of spring.

At its monthly meeting February 20, the board looked at a list created by Superintendent Miller that includes replacing curtains and floor tile in the elementary school, as well as sprucing up the front and sidewalk of the school, and replacing carpet in a variety of places throughout. The big job would be tuck pointing both the 1906 building (estimated $22,460) and the 1970 building ($34,109).

"Last year, you allowed us up to $100,000 (for summer repairs)," Miller reminded the group. Final decisions will be made after more cost estimates are made available at next month's meeting.

The theme of this month's meeting seemed to be staffing issues. High school principal and athletic director Brad Johnson submitted a request for six weeks medical leave beginning immediately. Faculty member Mike Honken will fill in as interim principal and athletic director during that time while his classes are covered by a long-term sub.

Elementary principal Bruce Blixt also submitted a request for approximately 6-8 weeks of immediate medical leave, in addition to his resignation, to be effective at the end of this school year. Superintendent Miller will assist the elementary office staff in covering principal duties until then.

Other resignations in the athletic area included the following: head volleyball coach (Jenny Helgemoe), assistant track coach (Matt Huber), and Middle School softball coach (Mackenzie Halvorsen).

On the issue of all day/every day kindergarten, Miller reported that he believes it is now unlikely that the state will mandate and support the measure. But the issue is not dead at R-P where board members want to look deeper at potential costs. The board looked at a report by Principal Blixt with recommendations based on his interviews with staff.

In addition to the need for more staff, the issue of where to put students for the extra hours has always loomed large. According to Blixt's report, the space problem could be potentially solved by putting up dividers in a high school social studies classroom and moving the resource room. Fifth grade could take over the current resource room on second floor, leaving an extra classroom for kindergarten.

Next year's kindergarten is projected to be approximately 50 students, which will require three sections regardless of whether the school moves to all day kindergarten. Coincidentally, next year, grades one, three and five will also each have more than fifty students, which has created the need for extra sections as those classes have progressed through the grades.

While the board is enthused about the possibility of offering all day/every day kindergarten, cost is still a problem.

"I don't see how we could afford it," said Jim Kitchens. Still, Kitchens, along with the rest of the board, agreed to look at a specific cost break down provided by Miller at the next meeting and will make a decision then.

The board agreed to form a facilities committee in the near future that will include all board members as well as community members.

Other Business

In other business, the board:

• heard a report from community education director, Beth Theede, where she informed them that she would receive training for managing the new web site later this week. Faculty and staff will receive training soon. Theede also recommends conducting a community-wide survey to determine what citizens want from their school district. Theede agreed that the survey could be conducted "in-house", but since that would take a substantial amount of coordination, she hoped the board might consider hiring an outside agency to conduct it. Roger Metz later commented that questions about facilities might be added to this survey.

• saw a number of short films created by students of technology instructor Mark Winkels that promote R-P schools.

• heard a report from Technology Coordinator Corey Mattson and his request for the board to consider setting aside funds yearly to upgrade technology in phases.

• held the briefest moment of silence for the school's 1988 Ford Ranger pick-up, which "died" recently, and agreed to purchase a used Ford 4 x 4 for snow plowing and other duties.

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