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Paynesville Press - June 4, 2003

District #741 School Board - Tuesday, May 27, meeting

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville Area School Board took the following actions at their meeting on Tuesday, May 27.

•The board reviewed its kindergarten staffing for 2003-04 and approved keeping its teaching staff in the elementary school the same for 2003-04. After kindergarten roundup, 66 students have been identified for kindergarten next year. In three sections, this is 22 students per class. In four sections, it is 17 or 18 students per section.

Due to the school's financial situation, the board did not want to add a teaching position in the elementary school, but several board members did question if the district could shift its staffing to reduce these kindergarten class sizes. The board directed the administration and staff to study the issue and make a recommendation back to the board.

•The board also approved raising the fees for all-day, everyday kindergarten for families that qualify for free lunches in 2003-04. Next year, the school district will charge families that qualify for free lunches $100, families that qualify for reduced-price lunches $200, and all other families $400 for the all-day everyday program. The charges are the same as 2002-03 except that families that qualified for free lunches were not charged at all this year.

The school offers a free all-day, alternate-day kindergarten program and charges for the extra time to keep students all day, everyday.

•The board approved hiring a 0.4 FTE speech clinician, or the equivalent, to help with special education speech needs.

The board heard from its speech clinicians - Diane Miller-Gertken and Karen Mumm-Thompson - that their caseloads are increasing. Mumm-Thompson, who handles pre-K through first grade, has 25 cases to start 2003-04 and that will increase as she gets referrals from early childhood screenings. Miller-Gertken's caseload for 2003-04 is 50 in grades 2-12, up from 38 in 2002-03 and 32 in 2001-02.

The teachers had asked for a 0.50 FTE increase but administration recommended an increase of 0.40 FTE, which was approved by the board. The district will try to hire a part-time speech clinician. If this is not possible, the district may try to contract for referals and testing to reduce their workload.

•The board approved a student transportation policy, recognizing transportation as an essential service but one that is a privilege and not a right, as students may have their ridership privileges revoked.

The school district will continue to transport elementary students who live more than a mile from the school or, for safety reasons, those who live outside the triangle formed by Highways 23, 55, and 124.

The school district will transport middle and high school students who live more than two miles from school or who live outside of the area bordered by Highways 23 and 55 (Chladek Addition).

The policy also states that the district may provide transportation to a nonresident student but will notify their home school district.

•The board approved hiring Jacquelynn Parsley as a business teacher for the 2003-04 school year. She will replace Becky Hoey.

•The board approved hiring Don Mayer as the new building and grounds supervisor and approved a two-year contract for him starting on July 1, 2003. Mayer replaces Lew Storkamp, who is retiring. Mayer has worked for the school district as a custodian since July 1992.

•The board denied a request from instructional assistant Kelley Mohr for a two-year leave of absence, voting 6-1 with board member Mark Dingmann voting against it.

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