The board of supervisors for Paynesville Township attended the school board meeting and raised those topics of mutual concern.
"We're asking for help," said township supervisor Don Pietsch. "How can we get the school district involved with the arena?"
"Certainly it's not being used to the extent that it could be used," added Pietsch. "We're here (because) we have a great facility. How do we make it more accessible?"
The most obvious potential uses were for physical education classes and in community education. Curriculum in the phy. ed. department is not scheduled to be reviewed for a couple years. Teachers and principals at the meeting testified to some units being conducted at the arena in years past, but some limitations were lack of skates and transportation.
School board member Debora Glenz said that curriculum changes come from teachers, and are not dictated by the school board.
Dean Hanson, another school board member, suggested that the teachers and coaches could take a trip to the arena during a workshop day and try to imagine ways to use the space. One suggestion of his was to consider using the space for athletic practices.
"In the short term," said school board chairman Pat Flanders, "the best way is through community ed. because the programs are fee driven."
Pietsch informed the board that the school could use its levying power to support the ice arena financially. He also suggested broomball as another activity that could be used in phy. ed. classes. Community education is already exploring forming a broomball league next winter.
The use of the ice arena was linked to summer recreation by a township donation last spring. Instead of a $3,000 cash donation to fund the summer recreation program, the township board approved giving $2,000 in cash and donating $1,000 in free ice time at the arena.
The idea was to use innovative thinking to promote the use of the ice arena, but it caused a problem with summer recreation, which needs cash funds. "We deficit spend in the summer because it's an investment in kids," explained Matt Dickhausen of the community education department. "We will run classes in the summer (where) we don't break even."
"We really need that $3,000 for summer recreation," added Dickhausen.
The school district believed it had an agreement with the city of Paynesville and Paynesville Township to cover the costs of the summer recreation program through a $3,000 cash donation. When the township offered its alternative contribution this spring, suggestions of charging township residents higher fees to recoup the money were considered by the school, but were discarded for logistical reasons.
Township board chairman Johnnie Olson said that they just wanted to foster the use of the ice arena and that having an agreement in writing might eliminate misunderstandings.
School board member Lowell Haagenson maintained that there appeared to be an agreement to support summer recreation. "And yet the city paid their part," he said. "I have a real problem in setting a precedent (to not pay)."
The township officers noted a number of problems with the current way the donation is expected. The township needs applications for donations by mid-December, a deadline missed last year. They decide on donations at their first meeting in March.
A further complication is the township limits its charitable spending to 10 percent of its revenue. The township residents decide on the levy each year at the annual meeting, so the amount the township board has to donate varies from year to year. And the list of requests gets longer each year.
Preferences were stated for putting the agreement in writing. And for having the township's contribution support the summer recreation program for the upcoming summer, instead of billing them for expenses incurred the previous year. "I guess I agree with Warren (Nehring, township supervisor)," said Flanders. "Pay up front."
Nehring was also concerned about why just the city and township were asked to support the summer recreation program. Superintendent Howard Caldwell answered that they have studied the users of summer recreation and the vast majority come from those two areas. School officials estimated 90 percent of the users came from either the city or township.
"You're holding one program hostage," said Glenz, in refererence to the linking of free ice time to summer recreation funding.
"And we don't want to do that," responded Pietsch.
"It sounds like we should have had this meeting a long time ago," concluded Flanders.
Left unresolved were the past budget deficits for summer recreation. The school board took no official action Tuesday night, and the township officers can't until their next meeting.
After the lengthy discussion with the township officers, the school board attended to the rest of its agenda quickly. The board approved a change in their milk break policy in the elementary school in the students up to grade 3. Students on the regular-priced lunch program will pay $0.25 for each carton of milk.
Students on free or reduced lunch programs will continue to receive free milk. Teachers will be using a checklist to record milk usage and the charges for milk will be deducted from the student's lunch account.
Glenz suggested that with the charge per carton, milk could be offered again in the fourth and fifth grades. Elementary Principal Todd Burlingame and a group of teachers will investigate offering the program to the fourth and fifth grades and then report back to the board.
The board approved department curriculums from the music, industrial technology, agriculture, land trans-portation, and business education departments.
The most notable change occurred in the music department, where fifth grade band was eliminated to allow for more voice lessons on the high school level. Under the old curriculum, choir director Cheryl Bungum had little time in her schedule to offer voice lessons, and she ended up using her prepatory time and before and after school for lessons.
To free up time for scheduled voice lessons every other week, the fifth grade band program was eliminated in the new curriculuum. Since the fifth grade is at a separate school, the department felt that program received less attention and support for beginning band students and was not adequate. Starting students in band before the summer of their sixth grade year would meet with more success because they would be better supervised.
Middle school band director Ken Vork, freed from teaching the lessons to the fifth grade, will take over Bungum's lessons to middle school band students. Bungum will use that time to schedule voice lessons in the high school.
The board welcomed its newest member, Gretchen O'Fallon, to her first official meeting as a school board member. O'Fallon was appointed to the board's community education committee. Matt Dickhausen was appointed to the Minnesota State High School League committee.
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