Herald JournalHerald Journal, May 10, 2004

HLWW prepares for k-5 schools in Winsted, Waverly

By Lynda Jensen

Changing the Winsted and Waverly school buildings into kindergarten through fifth grade buildings dominated the discussion during the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school district working session last Monday.

Pre-school and early childhood education will stay in Howard Lake, it was noted.

People in Winsted are particularly interested in the addition of the fourth and fifth grades, commented Elementary Principal Julie Millerbernd during the meeting.

“They’ve been asking for that for years,” she said.

The board also took up a somewhat thorny issue of compensation related to the move, which is a request by staff to be paid summer wage for packing up their items.

The board struggled with the idea of paying some people, and not others, since there are volunteers who plan to assist in the move itself, when teachers from Howard Lake Elementary will be relocated to Waverly.

In addition, the board is looking at a $331,000 shortfall for its budget, with the compensation issue being above and beyond any other expenses being considered right now.

If the district paid teachers two days to pack up, one in the late spring, and the other in the fall, it would cost the district approximately $15,000 to $20,000.

Moves in the past have not been paid, such as classroom shifting last year in Waverly.

However, Millerbernd pointed out that a move building to building is a different matter, and there have been staff members paid to move before, she said. She noted that the staff was willing to be paid summer wages.

School Board Member Lori Custer asked how long the teachers were given notice when they could pack. Millerbernd told her the teachers were told they could start packing by early May. Custer commented that at least this was an early start.

Chairman John Lideen proposed using the last day of school as a comp day for teachers to pack up.

School Board Member Tom Hammer pointed out that only some teachers are being impacted by the move, not all.

School Board Member Charlie Borrell agreed with Lideen, saying that the students could help pack up boxes this way since this is what Waverly did last year.

“It’s kind of one of those days where nothing gets done,” Borrell said.

Hammer noted that teachers from a recent committee meeting disagreed – saying that using a contact school day would be inappropriate and take away from the students. Teachers would prefer the compensation, he noted.

Some board members fretted that they would lose the volunteer help already organized. “There would be volunteers, but why – when you get paid?” commented School Board Member Tom Hammer.

“We’ll never get volunteer work again,” said School Board Member Al Doering, indicating that the expectation of being paid will follow the district.

“We can say it won’t set a precedent . . . but that doesn’t work,” Doering added.

“That’s a lot of money,” commented School Board Member Dan Schaible.

“People criticize government because it doesn’t follow everyday life,” Borrell observed. For example, if families were planning to move, they would call friends to help them and then pay for pizza afterward – unless they can afford to pay professional movers to do it, which most people can’t, Borrell said.

The board also discussed how long it would take to pack up, with many board members saying it wouldn’t take two days to pack and unpack.

“I wouldn’t leave the till open for a full day,” Doering said. “If you get paid a full day, it will take a full day.”

“They thought it would take two days,” Hammer responded, referring to staff at a recent committee meeting, although it was noted that most teachers there were not elementary.

Millerbernd said she thought two days was a conservative estimate, especially for established teachers with a lot of materials.

Lideen noted that packing up would be easier than unpacking. “Next fall will be tougher,” he said.

Lideen suggested asking teachers for input. It was decided to have the principals ask and return to the board with feedback.

Land agreement?

The board also discussed whether it should obtain a land purchase agreement before the operating bond is placed on the November election.

Some board members felt it would help the operating levy to pass, but others doubted this, saying that it would formulate a “no” group automatically.

The subject will be placed on a future meeting agenda.

“Some people were saying that the board is buying land behind their backs,” Schaible said.

“How can that be?” Doering asked. The land can’t be purchased without approval from voters to pay for it, even if the board enters into a land purchase agreement, he noted.

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