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Principals make staffing recommendations to DC board

February 18, 2008

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

With the estimated $400,000 of levy money allocated for new staff, the administrative team has come up with a recommendation for increasing staff for next year.

The recommendation given to the Dassel-Cokato School Board last Monday included increasing the number of full-time employees by 7.99.

At the elementary level, Cokato Elementary is recommending a .5 full-time employee in kindergarten, 1 full-time employee in fourth grade, a .32 physical education and music teacher between Dassel and Cokato, and use Safe School Levy funds to keep the .4 social worker in Cokato.

Currently there is the equivalent of a full-time social worker, since a .4 was just added in December. This would continue for next year.

Dassel Elementary recommends one full-time employee for an extra section at the fourth grade level. The total full-time employee increase at the elementary level would be 3.22.

The middle school suggests adding a teacher in fifth and sixth grades. Also, adding staff for math remediation, with the onset of new math requirements for eighth graders.

Adding a teacher in both grades would reduce class sizes from the current 30 students to 26, according to Gary Johnson, middle school principal.

“This will position us well for the year after,” Johnson said in regards to the large fourth grade coming into fifth grade the following year.

The high school recommended adding a .5 full-time employee for remediation in math and reading, a .5 full-time employee in foreign language, one full-time employee for a science teacher, and .17 for Ceramics II.

Dean Jennissen, high school principal, explained either French or German would be added to the curriculum depending on student interest. Currently, there is Spanish I, II, and III.

The board was concerned about space issues with adding new sections. The principals assured them they would find room.

“I think we’ll be OK,” Johnson said in the case of the middle school.

Because there is no additional space in both elementary schools, there will be a classroom where there are two teachers teaching a larger number of students.

No action needs to be taken regarding these staffing recommendations at this time, only when the budget is approved.

However, Superintendent Jeff Powers asked the board to let him know if they had any concerns.

In other business, Board Member Kevin Dahlman gave a negotiations update notifying that the certified committee is close to reaching agreement. This includes Early Childhood and Family Education teachers and a coordinator. Also, the classified committee (cooks, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, etc.) will be reaching an agreement, which is expected to come to the board at one of the next two meetings.

The board did approve the following contracts:

• The business manager’s contract, with a 6.5 increase for the first year and 3.0 for the second year, for a two-year total of $14,160 (including benefits, salary, and taxes). Dahlman explained the increase was to catch up to other business manager salaries in the area.

• The community education/activity director contract for a 3.0 salary increase for the first year, and 3.5 for the second year, for a two-year total of $8,894 increase (including benefits, salary, and taxes). Few language changes were made, according to Dahlman.

• The principals’ contracts with a 2.86 increase for the first year and a 2.87 increase for the second year, for a two-year increase of $45,323 (including benefits, salary, and taxes).

Odds and ends

Every seven years, a subject’s curriculum is reviewed. Last year, media and kindergarten through grade six communications curriculum was reviewed.

The four media professionals, Pam Dille from Dassel Elementary, Pam Osterberg from Cokato Elementary, Pam Beckermann from the middle school, and Paul Beckermann from the high school, gave their own curriculum report to the board.

Part of the new curriculum is intended to demonstrate knowledge in a particular subject area using technology.

Dille shared how the students are learning to use the web-based card catalog used for research. Osterberg explained that each year, students develop in the research process.

At the middle school level, students learn Internet safety and the importance of anonymity on the web. Then, in high school, students are taken to the next level of technology and research. Students can better determine what research tools will meet their specific curricular needs.

Beckermann also explained the high school is working into open source (free with a host fee) products such as online discussion board and distant learning.

With the media center open extended hours after school due to grant money, the center is “highly utilized,” Beckermann said.

Mechele Pitchford gave her report for the k-6 communications, since all students in those grades received new reading textbooks.

“I believe we are moving in the right direction,” Pitchford said, explaining the different components of the new curriculum.

As to whether or not there will be a change in this year’s MCA test scores, Pitchford said she is not anticipating a drop.

Curriculum Director Lorene Force added they are working on the problem areas.

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