Herald JournalHerald Journal, July 26, 2004

Joe Miller named LP superintendent

By Ryan Gueningsman

“Gettin’ it done,” as said by board member Melissa Williams, seemed to be the theme of last Monday’s Lester Prairie School Board meeting.

In just one meeting, the school district had a final contract for its assistant superintendent Joe Miller, offered a k-12 principal position to Pam Lukens, and officially accepted the resignation of activities director/teacher/community education director Hal Stevens.

Miller met with board members Chester Hoernemann and Fred Blaser prior to the meeting to discuss Miller’s contract, which basically parallels what former Supt. James Redfield had.

According to the three-year contract, Miller must become fully licensed to perform superintendent duties before Jan. 1, 2005. Miller’s annual salary will be $75,000 plus up to $4,000 for education expenses for the 2004-05 school year, $78,000 for the 2005-06 school year, and $80,730 for the 2006-07 school year.

“I just want to thank the board for putting its faith in me,” Miller said. “Positive people that do positive actions bring positive results. I will bring a positive attitude to this building every day.”

It was noted that when Miller does become fully licensed, there will not need to be a re-negotiating process for his contract.

After accepting the resignation of Stevens, the board offered the position of k-12 principal/community education director to Pam Lukens.

It was decided to advertise for a full-time social studies/physical education teacher, as well as an activities director/assistant 7-12 principal. The board is currently accepting applications for a full-time school counselor, whose contract will include the option to teach as necessary, and a full-time Spanish teacher with English as a Second Language.

The board also had been accepting applications for a math teacher, and upon the recommendation of administration, decided to hire Amy Smith as an elementary/ high school math/ Title One teacher. Smith has a master’s degree and will earn $33,712.

It was noted that due to Stevens’ and teacher Pam Green’s resignations, the board is not actually adding any positions.

“You’ll have to look next year at the finances to make sure you can continue with all of those positions,” Redfield said.

Hiring an interim, licensed superintendent from Sept. 1 until Miller’s license is final was also discussed. This person will likely be a retired superintendent, and will work approximately a six-hour day, one day a week at $50 an hour plus mileage, with the maximum amount he will be paid being $3,600.

The board authorized Miller to contact qualified persons, do interviews, and ask the person to attend the next board meeting.

Discussing the school as a storm shelter

The board met the City of Lester Prairie’s new Emergency Management Director Steve Berg, who will be assisting the district with its concerns about having the school serve as a storm shelter during inclement weather.

At a previous meeting, the board decided to allow the school to be used as a storm shelter. The district received a letter from its attorney about following certain guidelines and regulations, including Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regulations.

“My concerns were that we had not done our homework,” said Blaser, who voted against the motion when it was passed. “We need to address the issues. I don’t think it’s a negative idea, I just don’t think we’ve done our homework.”

The main purpose of having the shelter is for the residents of the mobile home park and apartment buildings, it was noted. The owners of such facilities should provide shelter to their residents, but if the city has an official designated shelter, the owner can get by with using that.

This issue has not been discussed at a Lester Prairie City Council meeting. Berg noted that it might be a good idea to have a meeting with school officials, city officials, and local emergency personnel to discuss this further.

“The whole goal is to find the best shelter for the community,” Berg said. The board decided reconsider the motion made at the previous meeting, and decided to table the use of the school as a storm shelter until its next meeting.


Miller presented the board with a proposal to replace the carpeting in two elementary rooms, as well as doing some remodeling in the high school office.

Miller wishes to create another office between the current superintendent’s office and the existing conference room, as well as replace the secretaries’ counter with a new desk at a cost not to exceed $5,500.

The board gave Miller approval to have the project done. The carpeting in the office will also be replaced. Hoernemann also noted that he would like to see the office door swing out, rather than in. Miller said he will look into this.

Miller also had information on the proposed roof projects. He met with Mark Thiede of TSP Architects and head custodian Pat Fogarty, and decided to bid all masonry, walls, and tuck pointing, replace four sections, and repair two sections, at a cost of about $87,300.

Next summer, the board is looking at replacing three sections at a cost of about $66,000.

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