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Paynesville Press - October 16, 2002

District #741 School Board meeting, Oct. 8, 2002

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville Area School Board took the following actions at their meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

• The board updated its proposed property tax levy for 2003. These are the taxes that will be paid in 2003, which the school district will use for its 2003-04 school year.

An extra health and safety levy of $100,000 was added to the levy, raising it from $1.3 million to $1.4 million. This levy will pay for an indoor air quality project, cleaning the ducts of mold and dust in the high school and some in the middle school.

This project, according to superintendent Howard Caldwell, was identified in a health and safety review and recommended for health reasons. Cleaning the ducts began in late August and should be completed by July 2003. In the high school, which was built in 1969, the ducts had not been cleaned in 33 years.

This additional levy means the school district's levy is set to increase from $0.96 million in 2002 to $1.4 million in 2003, an increase of 46 percent. This is largely due to the inclusion of the voter-approved excess levy, which will add $277,500 to property taxes in 2003.

The board will have to give final approval to a 2003 property tax levy in December, after it holds a Truth-in-Taxation hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m.

• The board approved a memorandum of understanding with the local education association (teacher's union) regarding seventh and eighth grade coaching positions, one-act play advisor, and the school patrol advisor. Compensation for these positions was cut as part of the budget reductions that were implemented this school year.

The memorandum of understanding exempts these positions from the master agreement between the teacher's union and the school district for this school year only. It allows the district to offer these positions on a volunteer basis or with some compensation. According to the agreement, both parties felt that junior high sports were important in the development of students and school patrol was important for safety reasons.

The education association also approved this memorandum of understanding.

• The board received a report about the kindergarten program from elementary principal Todd Burlingame, who met with the kindergarten teachers following the parental concerns brought to the school board last month. These concerns centered on class sizes of 25 students per class.

The teachers and Burlingame agreed that the students are getting more comfortable in the classrooms, which is helpful. They also identified five areas that may help alleviate the effects of the large class sizes: getting more parent volunteers, adding a foster grandparent, having another student teacher, checking with the Paynesville Area Center for other volunteers, and having more peer tutors from the high school.

• The board approved getting up to 50 hours of technology support from Tech Check, a firm that specializes in Apple computers. The cost is $80 per hour, totalling $4,000, which was budgeted.

• The board approved part-time employment assignments for Diane Schwandt as a cook/dishwasher (three hours per day), for Donna Bauer as a cook/dishwasher (four hours per day), and for Sandy Spanier as an instructional assistant for a special needs student (five hours per day).

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