Board hears on staffing, budget issues

 

by RANDY OLSON

STAFF WRITER

 

A lengthy list of personnel matters were discussed at last Thursday’s Sauk Centre school board meeting, after which the outlook wasn’t much clearer than it was when the meeting began.

Open positions at the administrative levels were fairly cut and dried, with the need to advertise for new elementary and secondary principals overshadowed by numerous teaching matters still up in the air.

“We have good news in the area of Early Childhood, with an expansion to our preschool programming a sure thing due to grant funding we’re receiving,” said Superintendent Dan Brooks.

“Other areas such as media and our elementary sections are clear as mud, however.”

With the likely return of secondary Dean of Students Don Peschel to the elementary classroom on a full-time basis, current long-term substitute positions will be filled by current or staff not yet hired. When former kindergarten teacher Megan Larson resigned last August, her position was filled with a long-term substitute, as was the fourth grade position held by Peschel.

In terms of new state funding, the 2014 Legislative session yielded an additional $25 per pupil increase to the per pupil formula, half of what schools were hoping for in April.

“The $25 piece is nice, as it adds $30,000 for us that we didn’t have in the mix during our April cuts,” said Brooks.

One area without clarity is the position of the CMETS coordinator, a half-time position which secondary teacher Dana Boschee applied to. A decision on that position was unavailable at press time.

“Whether or not he gets that position sets off other dominoes throughout the teaching staff,” added Brooks.

In terms of the media position, Brooks is studying what he labeled a “significant” amount of money in resources devoted to the school’s two media centers for general supplies, periodicals and equipment.

“If we take some of the thousands of dollars from those areas and devote it to bringing back some staffing levels, we want to find the right mix of the two choices. We don’t want our media staff capacity lowered to the point where it catches unwanted attention from the Minnesota Department of Education,” said Brooks, who is garnering feedback from teaching staff on their usage of periodicals.

A handful of staff members are still “in play” as far as retiring or resigning. By law, the district must release them from their contracts through July 15, although Brooks noted that in his 31 years the district has always granted a release from a contract when asked.

Brooks asked board members to keep May 27 or a date very close to then open for a possible school board meeting to act on various personnel matters.

 

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