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Paynesville Press - August 30, 2006

School board approves staff development grants

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville Area School Board took the following actions at their meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 22.

*The board approved a new teacher mentorship program at the elementary school and secondary school. The purpose is to help beginning teachers acquire the knowledge and develop the skills necessary to impact students in a meaningful and successful way, and to provide professional support as they begin their careers.

Funding for the program will be provided by a staff development grant of $550 - split by the elementary and secondary funds - and by Title II funds of $500.

*The board approved a staff development grant for evaluating the K-6 reading curriculum. A trend in the last testing indicates an overrepresentation of special needs students and male students in the not meeting standards or partially meeting standards categories.

The group - containing representatives from grades K-6 - will examine classroom practices and curriculum materials in an effort to meet the number of students meeting these standards. They will meet three times this school year and will need substitute teachers to do so.

Funding for the project will include $1,368 for hiring substitute teachers; $1,500 for staff training; and $200 for research materials; totalling $3,068.

*The board approved a staff development grant for the middle school and the high school to offer training and support to the paraprofessional staff throughout the school year in order to increase their skills in helping students in the classroom. Paraprofessionals will work with PAMS and PAHS special education teachers for one hour a month outside their working day to improve communication between staff.

Costs for this project totals $972, with half being covered by the West Central Education District. The other half - plus $50 for supplies, for $536 - will be divided between the middle school fund and the high school building fund.

*The board heard a report from FFA advisor Natalie Todnem and chapter president Kaitlyn Frenchick about an upcoming FFA fundraiser. A "corn drive," according to Todnem, will involve chapter members asking for donated corn from area farmers. Cash and check donations will also be accepted.

The donated corn will be taken to an auger, then to a feed company, and sold. Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to the local chapter; 25 percent of the proceeds will go to Camp Courage; and 25 percent will fund FFA scholarships for graduating high school seniors.

If well received, the corn drive may become an annual FFA fundraiser, said superintendent Todd Burlingame.

*The board approved the employee policy manual for the 2006-07 school year. Each staff member will receive a policy handbook, said Burlingame. Updates to the manual will be announced to staff members in advance. The policies will also be posted on the school's website.

*The board approved the following fitness center assignments for the 2006-07 school year: Mellody Weber, average of 20 hours a week; Sheryl Schmiginsky, average of 17 hours a week; Teri Johnson, average of 15 hours a week; Sue Teicher, average of eight hours a week; Jim Paster, average of eight hours a week; and Danielle Dickhausen, average of five hours a week.

*The board approved a long-term substitute teacher position for Jessica Kerzman in Early Childhood Special Education from August to December.

*The board approved a family illness leave of absence for paraprofessional Jill Lahr for the month of September.

*The board approved the following positions for Community Education preschool staff for the first session: lead teacher Lisa Hemmesch and assistant Tammy Neu.

*The board also approved the following Early Childhood Family Education staff for the first half of the 2006-07 school year: child educator Amy Jech (with Hemmesch as a long-term substitute when needed); parent educator Tricia Buggs; and paraprofessional Neu.

*The board approved adding a special education paraprofessional for 6.5 hours per day in the high school for the 2006-07 school year. If student numbers exceed regulations, the school will lose funding for special education.

*The board approved adding one hour a day to paraprofessional Alice Nyhlen's assignment so she can assist the technology specialist Jim Decker, starting in October. Paraproffessional Polly Jaeger, who currently helps Decker for one hour per day, is moving to the elementary school on Friday, Oct. 20, to become the elementary secretary. After some discussion among board members, it was confirmed that this position is cost effective.

*The board approved a resignation request from paraprofessional Ginny Chevalier, effective Tuesday, Sept. 5.

*The board approved an adjustment of paraprofessional Jeanne Olmscheid's assignment from 5.5 hours per day to 6.0 hours per day. Olmscheid is taking Chevalier's position with 6.0 hours per day; other paraprofessionals at PAES work 5.5 hours per day.

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