Herald JournalHerald Journal, Sept. 5, 2005

LP school adds teacher for this year

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

Concerns over the large number of students per grade at Lester Prairie Public Schools called for the filling of one additional full-time teaching position at a special school board meeting last Monday.

This spring, the Lester Prairie School District made several cuts in order to work toward a balanced budget. Those cuts are affecting scheduling for the school year as administration is running into roadblocks trying to make sure all of the students are able to take the classes they need.

Secondary Principal Ron Erpenbach outlined a situation where, currently, if another math position isn’t found for the high school side, 14 students would not be able to take band due to scheduling issues.

“That’s half the band,” said School Board Member Chester Hoernemann.

“No one can come up with a solution,” Erpenbach said, noting all the school administration, as well as some of the teachers who have taught at the school for a long period of time, looked at the schedule.

“I’m surprised it looks as good as it does,” Erpenbach said. “There is very little flexibility.”

Board Member Jeff Hecksel asked Erpenbach and k-12 Principal Pam Lukens their thoughts on waiting until the school year starts, then looking at additional staffing if it’s needed.

“It’d cause a real havoc with scheduling,” Lukens said. Erpenbach added he wanted to ask for more than one position at the special board meeting, but, ultimately, said he was “not trying to back (the board) into a corner by making a request you can’t grant.”

With the probability of additional staffing and other types of requests from administration, School Board Chairman Fred Blaser said future requests are going to be harder than this one, and that “a middle ground needs to be found.”

Overall, Superintendent Joe Miller said staff has done a “tremendous job” in keeping costs to the district down, which has painted a better budget picture than what was anticipated earlier in the year.

“The deficit is not as big as proposed in June,” Miller said, noting the current deficit sits at about $100,000, compared to the projected $400,000 from June. With the hiring of an additional teaching position, the deficit would become approximately $155,000.

“It’s more money that you’re going to spend that you don’t have,” Miller said.

Ultimately, the board decided to authorize the superintendent to hire one full-time teaching position to be used however the administration can best make use of.

Blaser noted a variance can be applied for so that person (s) would be able to teach on both the elementary and high school sides.

Building referendum and operating levy tabled

The school board tabled its plans to ask voters to approve a building referendum and operating levy at this fall’s election.

The referendum and levy are in the works for a proposed new activity center.

The plans include two full gym floors with bleachers to accommodate seating for 300 people each, lockers, and one 32’ x 32’ community room, for a cost of just under $2 million.

The decision was made to table the planning for now because the district was unable to have all the requirements in place by the deadline to get it on this fall’s ballot.

The board directed Miller to keep working on the plans, and said it could foresee having a possible mail-in ballot in early 2006.


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