By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN On a split-vote, the Delano School Board voted to limit open enrollment for the 2009-10 school year.
This year, Delano has had 17 students open enroll into the district in grades one through 12, and 15 students in kindergarten. By law, school districts cannot limit open enrollment completely, but it can be limited to 1 percent of the total enrollment at a given grade level.
“This is the strictest standard you can put in by state law,” said Delano schools Superintendent Dr. John Sweet. “You can’t close it off totally.”
Sweet looked back at open enrollment numbers for the past few years, noting in 2007-08, there were 29 that enrolled into the district; in 2006-07 there were 57; in 2005-06 there were 76; in 2004-05 there were 31; in 2003-04 there were 24; in 2002-03 there were 10; and in 2001-02 there were nine.
“We’re basically full,” Sweet said, noting an argument could be made that by accepting more students into the district, more general education funding from the state also follows per student at about $6,000.
Several board members voiced opposition to this, noting that doing this would increase the class sizes.
“One percent allows us to keep class sizes where the people of Delano like to keep them,” Board Member Sarah Gallagher said.
Board Member Carolyn Milano agreed, noting the high school and middle school are already over capacity, and the elementary school is at capacity. She felt the district should continue with limiting open enrollment because of the district’s capacity issues.
On the other hand, Board Member Tim Douglas felt if there was the opportunity to receive additional revenue from the state for additional students, the district should not limit open enrollment.
“The dollar that comes with that child keeps it off our taxpayers,” Douglas said.
The board voted to limit open enrollment for the 2009-10 year school year, with Douglas voting against the motion.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• heard a program review from Activities Director Joe Haas (see related story in sports).
Haas said this fall, there were approximately 31 new participants in activities. Haas also said there may be a need for an additional track coach this spring.
“I see the need because of the diversity in track,” Haas said, noting an additional coach would help participants excel and not spread coaches too thin.
Haas also gave credit to the Community Education and youth programs for feeding students into the middle school and high school activities programs.
• accepted a $1,000 donation for upgrades to the Community Education playground from Daniel and Kimberly Menk.
• approved the resignation of high school paraprofessional Paula Bottko; the hiring of Jeffrey Lynch as high school night custodian, replacing John Frilstad, and a family leave of absence for Meghan Gibas from Jan. 5 through Feb. 28, 2009.
• approved the collective bargaining agreement with Service Employees International Union, Local 284 paraprofessionals.
Brasket said this is the first agreement of this type the school district has had, and said it took a considerable period of time to complete.
• heard an update from High School Principal Matt Schoen about new features to the high school calendar that is online. Schoen said the calendar is more user-friendly, has more information, and can automatically notify people of changes to certain things.
• heard from Community Education Director Diane Johnson that the new phone system in the Community Education building is being installed and should be complete by Christmas.
• changed the site of the Truth and Taxation hearing Tuesday, Dec. 2 to the Delano City Hall at 7 p.m.
“We are not required to hold the meeting, but we think it’s worthwhile to educate people,” Sweet said. Having it at the city hall also allows for the meeting to be televised.
• conducted the first reading on a number of policy changes per the Minnesota School Boards Association.
• approved a request for an extended (overnight) varsity/junior varsity wrestling trip to Fargo, ND from Jan. 1-3 for a wrestling tournament.