By Linda Scherer
After almost five months of negotiating, and with the help of mediation, Lester Prairie teachers agreed to a two-year contract, which was approved by the school board at its Monday meeting.
The increase of 8.5 percent for two years is more then the state’s average pay increase of 7.09 percent for two years.
A 5 percent increase will be for the 2007-08 school year, and a 3.5 percent increase will be given for the 2008-09 school year.
Superintendent Joe Miller said the changes bring the area salary schedules to about average for the size of the school.
A beginning teacher with a bachelor’s degree would start at $29,131 for this school year. The starting figure will increase to $29,562 next fall.
A beginning teacher with a master’s degree will start at $31,526 this year, and $31,992 next year.
The settlement will cost the school district $162,983 over the two-year contract. Of that amount, $105,213 will go for salaries and $57,770 will be spent on insurance and other benefits.
LP student wants counselor to stay
During the open dialogue portion of the board meeting, Lester Prairie student Ashley Lukes asked the board to have Preventive Specialist Betsy Horon’s contract extended to the end of the school year.
Lukes was speaking for approximately 15 to 20 other students who have been meeting in Horon’s chemical prevention group sessions weekly. She felt the counseling sessions were helpful to herself, as well as the other students, and wanted the meetings to continue.
Horon’s contract will end Monday, Dec. 31, because the funding for her services has been provided through a grant by the Local Collaborative Time Share (LCTS), which will run out at the end of the year.
In addition to Horon’s contract, the school will be losing its after school enrichment activities for students, and the police liaison, who has been handling truancy issues.
Principal Pam Lukens is hoping to get other funding to replace these programs from a grant through the McLeod County Family Connection, but so far, that has not happened.
The board asked Miller to look at all options to enable the chemical prevention program to continue and to bring his suggestions to next month’s meeting.
Although Miller did agree to the request, he seemed hesitant to comply as he reminded the board that it had already added an additional six hours per week for a nurse’s contract, which was supported by this grant, as well.
School Board Member Chester Hoerneman told the board that money is never wasted when it provides early intervention.
Academic interventions get high marks by board
High School Principal Scott Fitzsimonds reported he is using Instant Alert to notify parents and students on a weekly basis regarding academic deficiencies.
He is working with teachers on an academic intervention plan, giving a step-by-step process for teachers to follow as an aid in catching students before they fall too far behind. Fitzsimonds added that parents have been very supportive of the plan.
The board expressed overwhelming approval for the procedure and the need for the school to have a program like it in place.
Fitzsimonds also reported to the board that the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) test results from this fall showed an area of concern in grade six, number sense; and grade eight, geometry and measurement.
It showed strong performance in grades 6 and 8, statistics and probability
All other grades and areas were within the normal range of yearly improvement.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• approved the 2008 levy in the amount of $782,394. It is an 11.75 percent increase over the 2007 certified levy of $700,121.
• learned that the school had received $10,000 from LaVonne Seemann to be used for two nursing scholarships. Each $5,000 scholarship will be given out over a two-year period. The scholarship was given to celebrate Seemann’s 50th anniversary in nursing.
• was informed that the meeting to reorganize the board is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m. The regular meeting will follow.
• learned an elementary dance for grades four through six is scheduled for Thursday Jan. 17 from 7 to 9 p.m.