By Lynda Jensen
DASSEL-COKATO, MN The December meeting for the Dassel-Cokato School Board carried more sentiment than usual, since half of the seasoned board was making an exit, and one of the three was named to a prestigious position with the Minnesota School Boards Association.
Longtime members Cary Linder, Brian Danielson, and Denise Ertl expressed farewells during their final meeting, since none of them refiled during the November election. In addition, Linder was named to the 2009 All State School Board, which is the Minnesota School Boards Association most prestigious award (see separate article).
Linder has been serving the DC board since 1998. Danielson has been serving since 2001, despite serious health issues. Denise Ertl filled in 2007 until the present, but also served 2003 to 2006.
Board Chairman Kevin Dahlman said the threesome left big shoes to fill.
“It has been a pleasure to serve with the three of you,” Tormanen told the trio. Ertl’s perpetually positive attitude was infectious, and Linder’s leadership was essential, Tormanen said.
Dahlman thanked the three of them, saying that he didn’t think people understood the time and effort it took to perform the duties of a board member.
“We all hope to see you around in different capacities,” Supt. Jeff Powers said.
Danielson described his time on the DC board as an honor and a privilege. His greatest accomplishment was helping to bring about the Performing Arts Center, he said.
Ertl said her time spent on the board was an “amazing experience.” However, she emphasized that everyone should be responsible and take part in government.
Linder said he was proud to have served on the DC board, and be part of that legacy. He was also glad to see the new membership.
Members needed on Advisory Council
The board heard a report from Brian Danielson, liaison for the board, as well as Perry Thinesen about the status of Community Education. The advisory board is looking for a few more members. It was noted that both Dassel and Cokato approved the joint powers agreement. Thinesen reported that he is in the process of approaching the four surrounding townships for revenue that would match the number of township children who attend. The townships adopt their budgets during a different time of year, so the idea would be to obtain a commitment, if any, for 2010.
Danielson noted interesting classes such as the fact that a new wine-making class that will be offered, which spans a 13 month period.
Tests don’t measure creativity, innovation
In other business, Powers spoke about testing standards and the nation’s “obsession with tests.” Excessive testing can stifle creativity, he said.
When it comes to how data is being used on an international scale, testing can turn out to be more fizzle than fizz, he said. Testing is not related to anything with the national economy. When it comes to economy and the related competitiveness, test results are not very important. Out of the top 10 most important attributes for international success, innovation was rated number one, he said.
Personnel matters OK’d
The board also approved the following personnel matters:
• Lane changes for Brian Franklin, Laura Lynk, Heidi Veith, and Paula Trisko.
• Employment of Irene Schwartz as the Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) coordinator to replace longtime coordinator Rebecca Warpula.
• Approved the employment of Chad Tschimperle as a driver for the lift bus, and Gwen Rien as a substitute driver; both effective Dec. 4.
• The resignation of Elizabeth Mattson as a middle school special education para-educator, effective Dec. 8.
• Coaching assignments as follows: Heidi Veith as assistant cheerleading winter season, Jacob Stang as assistant boys basketball coach.
• Approved an unpaid medical leave of absence extension to Deb Ryan from Jan. 1, 2009 to June 7, 2009. The same was granted to Jeff Barth for the same time frame.
• Approved a proposal from Brian Franklin to work toward a lane change
• Employment of Betsy Dobmeier as ALC secretary.
Donations noted by board
The board also observed several donations given to the district. This includes the following: $700 from 3M applied toward the Community Education Lego League, $1,000 from an anonymous donor to be applied toward Cokato Elementary programs, $100 from Sew Friendly Quilters to be applied toward supplies at Cokato Elementary, $500 from Hazel Dahlman to be applied toward the foster grandparent program at Cokato Elementary, $500 from Cokato Manor to be applied toward the foster grandparent program at Cokato Elementary, $200 from the American Legion Auxiliary to be applied toward Cokato Elementary programs, and 200 pounds of steel from Towmaster Trailers for the high school industrial arts program.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• heard from Danielson that 773 people attended the Church Basement Ladies performance at the PAC as part of the Community Education report. The departure of Rebecca Warpula was also noted.
• heard a report from Tormanen about Smart Board technology.
Tormanen noted that the software that comes with it is free. He also said a University of Minnesota study showed that it’s better to have three students share a computer than one alone, since one tends to do non-serious work and get distracted.
• heard from Powers that there will be a facilities meeting after Christmas break that would pertain to a demographics presentation.
• noted that Q-Comp, which was reported in the past, will continue in the process since this is being sponsored by the union leader and Powers on paper. This will enable the process to continue in case the board should decide to go forward with it in the future. It may or may not become a reality.
• approved the final reading of the lettering requirements, which has been changed to allow Thinesen to change the policy without a first and second reading from the school board.
• approved the final levy for the 2008 payable 2009 levy certification for a total levy of $3,529,908, which is an increase of 2.6 percent.
• approved a trip to Chicago for the DC National Honor Society for Feb. 14-18. Cost of trip will be $200 and tours and admission fees $50-$100. The students will be supervised by Ryan Luhrs and staff from Luther College.
Money from fundraising came from the Happenings book sales, another Kid Day in one of the Elementary schools, and requests from individuals to help defray costs of the trip.
• granted permission for four choir seniors to attend the Dorian Vocal Festival at Luther College in Decorah, IA. Trips that are taken out of state require board approval. The music boosters helped to fund this venture.