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Paynesville Press - June 18, 2003

District #741 School Board

The Paynesville Area School Board took the following actions at their meeting on Tuesday, June 10.

• The board took its first look and asked questions about the district's proposed budget for 2003-04. For the first time in years, the district is proposing a balanced budget.

General fund revenue for the school district is expected to increase by nearly $350,000 in 2003-04, largely due to $320,000 from the district's levy referendum. This was approved by district voters in April 2002, but the school district will receive revenue from this for the first time in 2003-04. The school district also expects an additional $190,000 in general education aid and $64,000 in additional revenue for capital expenditures, largely from the health and safety levy.

Reduced revenues include $68,000 that was given the school district by the "Keep the Quality" Campaign for the 2002-03 school year; $62,000 less in special education aid; $39,000 in reduced investments; and $45,000 in reduced federal and Title I aid.

General fund expenditures are down by $74,300 in the proposed budget for 2003-04, yielding a proposed general fund balance of $155,254. In the food service fund, the district plans to purchase $18,000 in needed equipment from its reserves in that account, resulting in a deficit in that amount for 2003-04.

The school district needs to approve its 2003-04 budget by the end of June. The school district's 2003-04 school year starts on July 1. The school board is expected to approve a budget at its next meeting on Tuesday, June 24, at 8 p.m.

Proposed 2003-04 Budget

Fund Revenue Expenditures

General $8,567,236 $8,411,982

Food Service $380,200 $398,044

Comm. Ed. $220,735 $239,073

Debt Redemption $858,245 $818,709

2002-03 Budget Fund Revenue Expenditures General $8,217,708 $8,486,300

Food Service $379,529 $383,405

Comm. Ed. $209,862 $262,142

Debt Redemption $855,453 $823,754

• The board heard a report of concerns from a group of middle school teachers. This school year featured many changes in the middle school due to the elimination of the middle school principal and other cuts and changes.

Connie Wimmer, who acted as the spokesperson for the teachers, said the middle school teachers had met three times this spring to discuss the school year and the organization. On the positive side, the teachers were pleased with how discipline was handled. A teacher in each grade - Bob Bowden in sixth grade, Randy Ziemer in seventh grade, and Tim Woehler in eighth grade - handled discipline. This went well, said Wimmer, though the teachers think that female teachers should also be involved next year.

Ziemer, who also attended the board meeting, said he was amazed at how much time it took to handle discipline, especially following up. Consequently, he said, his paperwork for teaching suffered, he said. Wimmer said the sixth grade teachers wish they had more contact with elementary principal Todd Burlingame, whose office is located at the elementary building but who supervises sixth grade. They suggested having an office for him at the middle school.

The teachers also are concerned that some kids have two study halls for one quarter, which they think is too much. With the elimination of developmental reading, any student who is not in band and choir will have two periods for Educational Study Time (EST).

Additionally, some students who are home-schooled for certain classes might have another study time. Teacher suggestions range from reinstating developmental reading, since this extra study time was not foreseen when this class was cut.

The teachers have also been brainstorming about other solutions. For the sixth grade, the teachers are considering using this extra study time for a nongraded class on study skills, said Wimmer. But for the seventh and eighth grades, teachers face a contractual issue that could preclude using this extra period for nongraded teaching. Without a middle school, teachers from 7-12, by contract, must teach five periods, have one duty period, and have one prep period.

Choir director Cheryl Bungum also told the board that she was concerned about charging admission for middle school concerts. As a revenue source, the school district has charged for fine arts concerts and events in the past couple years.

Bungum told the board that the concerts are really part of the curriculum and that student numbers are dropping because some parents do not attend concerts due to the admission charge. Without parents at concerts, students have little support for staying in band or choir. The district does not charge admission for middle school sports.

Also, people should be able to use activity passes to attend high school concerts, Bungum told the board.

•The board received a report from principal at large Deb Gillman about changes in the math curriculum based on a math study group. As a result of the study, the district found that its curriculum was a year or two behind the state tests. In response, the district will move all its textbooks down one grade in the middle school and elementary school. The district purchased some used textbooks for the eighth grade.

The district also set a goal of spending at least 50 minutes per day in every grade level on math.

•The board approved teaching contracts for Keri Hatlevig, a physical education and health teacher, with Tracey Peipenburg, a life science teacher, and with Leza Weber, a special education teacher, for the 2003-04 school year.

•The board approved an extended employee assignment this summer for special education teacher Karen Mumm-Thompson, who is working with an elementary special needs student in accordance with an Individual Education Plan.

•The board accepted resignations from instructional assistant Kelley Mohr, from food service employee Joyce Tougas, and from special education driver Bob Tschann at the end of the 2002-03 school year.

•The board approved the following summer assignments at the fitness center: Reed Quarfot (17 hours per week); Nancy Sampson (15 hours); Danielle Dickhausen (nine hours); Krysta Larson (nine hours); and Jim Paster (as needed).

•The board acknowledged that middle school teacher Cal Davidson qualified for a 25-year career increment at the conclusion of the 2002-03 school year.

•The board approved a letter of agreement to participate in the Stearns County Family Services Collaborative for the 2003-04 school year. The collaborative covers 97 percent of the cost for a mental health counselor in the elementary school and a chemical health counselor in the middle/high school.

•The board approved using the Southwest West Central Service Cooperative for the rental of video tapes and additional education materials. Previously, the district had used a different organization for this service, but the money for this was cut from the budget. The new organization is less expensive, and the money for doing this will come from the media program budget and are not additional dollars.

•The board approved an agreement with the Paynesville-New London-Spicer Hockey Association to continue the high school hockey program for the next two school years. The agreement calls for the hockey association to cover all the costs for high school hockey.

The board also approved a cooperative athletic agreement for hockey for the next two school years with Albany, Eden Valley-Watkins, New London-Spicer, Rocori, and St. John's Prep. EV-W has been added to this cooperative, which plays boys' and girls' hockey as the River Lakes Stars.

The Paynesville Area School Board took the following actions at their meeting on Tuesday, June 10.

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