Herald JournalHerald Journal, Mar. 22, 2004

Discord marks HLWW board meeting

By Lynda Jensen

Disagreements marked the regular school board meeting for Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted last Monday.

Top on the list of discord included choosing an architect for the portable classroom arrangements, which caused lengthy discussion and two split votes.

Supt. George Ladd urged the board to make the selection soon, since more waiting might prevent the portables from being in place in time.

“We’re stuck in the mud,” Ladd said. It appeared the board was a long way off from making a decision about the architect, he said. In addition, another architect must be chosen for permanent remodeling and long-term site plans.

“Why the big rush?” asked Board Member Charlie Borrell.

“They told me an architect must be chosen by the (April) 15th to make this happen,” Ladd said.

The board planned a three-week schedule of narrowing down six architects, including making site visits, setting criteria for interviews, conducting interviews, and then making a final selection by April 19.

This wouldn’t be soon enough, Ladd said. The state requires that an architect and engineer be on board as soon as possible, he said.

Borrell objected that prematurely choosing an architect for the portables didn’t make sense, since the board also hoped to choose an architect for a permanent long-term facilities and remodeling.

“It’s a bad idea,” he said.

The long-term remodeling may go right on top of the portables on one of the building sites and cause problems, Borrell said.

“We’ve already wasted two months,” Board Member Dan Schaible commented.

A motion was made to allow Ladd to choose an architect for the portable classrooms, which Board Member Charles Weber seconded.

“Charlie, you let me down with that second,” Borrell told Weber.

The motion passed with board members John Lideen, Tom Hammer, Weber, Doering, Schaible in favor, and Borrell against. Board Member Lori Custer was absent.

Despite the motion passing, the board continued to revisit the issue and then eventually made another motion regarding it.

“It’s still going to be a push to get done by September,” Ladd said. He didn’t want to tell students that school would be closed the first two weeks because the portables weren’t in place, he said.

Doering noted that plans could be changed later.

“If you change the location, you change everything,” Borrell said. He was against going back to do the work again, with the project costing more, he said.

A motion was made to choose the architect with the lowest of six bids, of which Lideen and Borrell voted against.

Borrell noted that the building and grounds committee was scheduled to make a referral by April 1, which could still be done.

“I disagree with everybody,” Doering said. “Why don’t we let buildings and grounds select, and work with George. It will have a greater likelihood of being the same guy.”

“I agree with Al – I disagree with everybody,” Hammer agreed.

The second architect may not know what direction the district is going, he said.

“Our permanent (architect) is more important than our portable (architect),” Borrell said.

Weber disagreed. “When we set up our curriculum for the children, we’ll get the pattern set,” he said.

It was decided to call a meeting with the building and grounds subcommittee later in the week to further spur choosing the architect along.

Turning to other subjects, the board discussed a survey for students asking questions about sexual habits, drugs, and alcohol which will be conducted anonymously. Students may opt out of the test.

The survey is part of a Safe and Drug Free program, which involves federal dollars. It was administered three years ago.

Doering expressed skepticism that the test will gather truthful answers. “I wouldn’t even trust adults to answer it truthfully,” he said.

Weber disagreed, saying that he answered many surveys during his medical situation. He is currently under an experimental drug arrangement for his heart condition.

“They do get results from those tests, stupid as they look. They work,” he said.

Enrollment is up again

Enrollment took another jump, with another 20 students being reported in kindergarten grades and a total of 42 students in the upper grades. This compares with being down five from last year at the beginning of the school year, Ladd said.

Different words to the school song?

Rhonda Schuler visited with the board about possibly changing the words to the school song to make it easier to adapt for non-traditional events, such as FFA and mixed ensemble.

“It doesn’t encompass all the Lakers,” she said.

She graduated in 1984 and is very involved in several HLWW activities, including teaching cheerleaders the song.

Currently, the words are:

Lakers out for victory

Move right down that line

pass the ball around those______

Basket (or touchdown, or pin down) sure this time, rah, rah, rah

Lakers out for victory

Fight on for your fame

Fight Lakers

Fight, fight, fight

To win . . . this game

Hey (Rack ‘em up, stack ‘em up, Let’s go)

The board approved Schuler to move forward with a different version in the form of a student contest to come up with different words. She was also approved to do a fundraiser to purchase a plaque with the new words on the gymnasium wall.

Schuler will return to the board with suggestions.

Increase in testing is a

‘monster’

The board also talked about a testing coordinator position to relieve the pressure off of Dean Wessman, who wears three hats; acting as the Humphrey Elementary principal, the curriculum coordinator, and testing coordinator.

Currently, Wessman must conduct 13 tests per school year, with about 22 hours per test for staff time in ordering, preparing, administering and then reporting test results.

With the increase in testing for No Child Left Behind, he said it would be impossible for himself to continue the job by himself.

“This testing has become a monster,” he said.

Principals should be more concerned with using test results to improve test scores, not actually administering the tests, which can be done by a non-licensed person, he said.

Wessman is only one of two people in the state who conducts the testing as part of his position, he said.

“It doesn’t have to be a principal or administrative person,” he said.

Odds and ends

In other business, the board:

• heard a report from Schaible, who reiterated what he reported at the work session about the Wright Technical Center.

The board weighed its costs with the benefits of using the center.

“It has substantial teachers and equipment, with small classes,” Schaible said.

It is possible that HLWW’s share of the cost may increase by $30,000 if more students attend as hoped, although it was noted that the equipment and curriculum offered at the tech center could not be offered for this amount otherwise because it was considered an inexpensive alternative.

In the end, the board approved a 3 percent assessment increase for the technical center.

• decided to look into charging students for consumables, or items that need replacement with each new class, such as wood for wood shop.

• talked about ending the 800 numbers after metro calling is enacted in Winsted, since the calls are costing $200 to $300 per month, as pointed out last month by Borrell.

• heard a comment from Weber that a site should be chosen for a new high school before the operating levy is asked, or it may not pass.

Hammer said that the land won’t affect an operating levy, since he felt it was a separate issue.

• asked about the lane change process, which is an increase in teacher’s salary for additional training and experience. Doering wanted to know if the board could receive a list of teachers looking for lane changes ahead of time. It was noted that lane changes are contractual obligations with the teacher’s union and the board must approve them.

• approved Ladd to give recommendations on the elementary principal opening with two to three final candidates for the board to review.

The board plans to choose a candidate by Monday, May 17.

Borrell voted against the measure, because he felt an administrative assistant arrangement could save more money. However, this idea was opposed by staff and other board members, who noted that a less experienced principal than Julie Millerbernd will automatically bring a fair amount of savings.

• heard from Ladd that the state used to withhold 7 percent, but now withholds 23 percent to balance the state budget. This causes cash flow problems for HLWW, he said.

Ladd noted higher costs in transportation with some necessary repairs being made, higher costs of insurance, and vehicle fees going up.

• heard from High School Principal Mike Day that the National Honor Society will be visiting Hawaii this year, at no district expense.

Day also noted a show that will play for students called “Homeward Bound,” which addresses many different subjects, such as bullying, low self esteem and gossiping. This is at no cost to the district since the 21st Century Collaborative is paying for it, he said.

• heard from Millerbernd that elementary students finished the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment tests recently.

• briefly discussed roof repairs, with the possibility of using a better material for the roofing. All of the buildings need work except for the Winsted gymnasium, Ladd said. The decision is dependent on long-range plans and remodeling.

• noted that the Adult Training and Habilitation Center is interested in buying some land owned by the district in Winsted.

Borrell noted that the district may wish to expand on this land, and perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to sell it.

• accepted the resignation of Sandy Rivers, a special education paraprofessional.

• heard from Lideen that a meeting will be made with Jan Rhode of the Minnesota School Board Association to discuss what is public information at the work session, 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 17.

• approved hiring Melissa Campbell as a cleaner/sweeper to replace Bob Gueningsman at Winsted Elementary.

• approved lane changes for Jolene Davidson and Darrell Smith.

• recognized Dura Supreme for the donation of $2,200. The board also recognized the concern choir, girls choir, concert band, and jazz band for a job well done this year.

The board recognized Rhonda Schuler for the donation of three projectors with a combined value of $1,000.


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