Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, July 26, 1999

Board considers athletic issues, disappointed with joint school/city meetings

By Luis Puga

Lester Prairie School's athletic director Bob Kuehl brought a number of items before the school board on Monday.

Kuehl began by asking the board to consider allowing the varsity baseball team to attend spring training camps.

Essentially, the teams would head south to a warmer climate for some early training. Kuehl pointed out that some of the school's bigger competitors take advantage of such trips.

He added that such a trip could be funded by community donations through fundraisers.

However, the board felt that hitting the community up for donations was asking too much.

Listing other organizations, such as the After Prom Committee and others, that depend on community donations, some board members felt that asking for additional donations might alienate the community.

The board also felt that providing a trip for only the varsity baseball team could create problems, since Kuehl is the athletic director, not just a baseball coach.

In the end, the board said it would consider the proposal, but Board Member Murl Kletscher added that if the 15-16 boys really wanted the trip, they might consider funding it themselves.

The next item Kuehl brought before the board concerned Junior Olympic volley ball and AAU basketball, two extra-curricular activities available to students. These programs are not part of the school's athletic department.

Kuehl asked the board to consider ending the availability of the school facilities to those two school organizations.

He felt such a measure could stem the tide of students joining those teams. This would leave school teams with an adequate number of players.

Kuehl said that 32 girls signed up for junior varsity softball , but then went on to join volleyball and basketball outside of the school. With only 16 girls, the school did not have a team for that year.

Kuehl added that this is a problem because the school paid for coaches and a program that were not used, thus wasting tax money. On top of that, the additional teams were adding wear and tear to the equipment of the school's facilities.

The board felt that such a measure would alienate the parents of students who are in the two programs. Board Member Chester Hoernemann said one parent told him his family would go to another town if AAU basketball was cancelled.

Board Member Kyllo added that the town has expressed a desire for a community center, and, until such a center is built, the school acts as such a center. The board also pointed out that the school cannot stop students from joining these organizations.

Chairperson Gene Starke said he received a number of calls concerning this issue, and he preferred that Kuehl talk to the parents of the student athletes in the two organizations. He added that it was important to get a commitment out of children who sign up for programs, so the resources don't go to waste.

He also said the volleyball program is almost 10 years old, and he could not foresee the board restricting that organization from using the school's facility.

Kuehl received approval to hire additional fall coaches: one for seventh grade volleyball and one for ninth grade football. However, Kuehl's request for the board to consider raising the pay of referees, timekeepers, and scorekeepers at high school games was tabled for further consideration.

Joint meetings with city council

The board's disappointment with the joint meetings between the school and city council was apparent as they made preparations for the next joint meeting in August.

Starke asked, "Why should we prepare when they are not prepared?" He felt the city was not ready for the last meeting. Starke added, referring to the school's future planning, "Before we can do anything, they have to annex land into the city. Until they do that, we can't do anything as a school district."

Other business . . .

  • The board accepted the lowest bids for a number of services for the upcoming year, including fuel (Ralph's Oil Inc.), milk (Oak Grove Dairy), and bread (Rolling Pin bakery).
  • Board members Chet Hoernemann and Barry Kyllo were put in charge of organizing an excess levy referendum committee. Superintendent James Redfield maintained that the community must feel involved in the decision making process of the referendum.
  • The board approved a master contract with the Minnesota School Employees Association. This ends the negations with the district's non-certified staff.
  • Three resignations were approved by the board. James Bettcher will be moving on to Waconia and leave his counseling position with Lester Prairie Schools. Chris Bateman will now teach in Hutchinson, vacating a special education teaching position open. JoAnne Gustafoson, the Early Childhood and Family Education (ECFE) coordinator, will be moving to LeSueur.
  • Joy Lipe will be the temporary secretary for community education for the remainder of the summer.
  • The district extended a contract with Business Manager Diane Peterson for two years.
  • Mia Waldera has taken a leave of absence to continue her work with the Department of Children and Family Learning for another year. Waldera had spent the previous year as a consultant for the implementation of graduation standards throughout the state.
  • It is estimated that, while completing the contract work that Honeywell has been doing on the district's facility, an additional $25,000 in necessary repairs has been discovered.
  • The overall work on the sound system in the gym is complete. Some additions, such as impact guards and additional microphones, will be explored.
  • A bid for $18,400 from MAAC, Inc. of Montevideo was accepted to remove asbestos from some of the maintenance tunnels under the school.
  • Joe Miller, dean of students, proposed requiring a full year of social studies as a graduation standard.
  • He said that would put the district in line with other schools. Miller added that Sociology has a strong component in the profiles of learning. Lastly, he felt it would add to seniors' schedules who have finished much of their credits by senior year. In this vein, he added that the school might consider raising the number of minimum credits, as many seniors find themselves with only half a day's classes by the end of the year.
  • The board scheduled its budget meeting for Monday, Aug. 10 at 6 p.m.
  • Elections will be held for three seats on the board: those of Nancy Krull, Barry Kyllo, and Murl Kletscher. Each position is for four years. Kletscher added that anyone who thinks that she/he can run the school should file.Kletscher added that he will not be running this year.
  • The board set a special referendum meeting for Wednesday, Sept. 8 at 6 p.m.
  • The levy certification hearing will be on Monday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. and continued on Monday, Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. The school board has scheduled its regular meeting to follow the hearing on Dec. 13.


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