By Linda Scherer
LESTER PRAIRIE In an effort to save the Lester Prairie School District money, the board agreed at its meeting last Monday to create a new administrative position a combination half-time school superintendent/half-time high school principal for 2009-10.
Advertising for the position will be done immediately and the hiring committee will accept applications for the position until 3 p.m., Friday, July 31.
A special board meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 3 at 6:30 p.m. to review applicant qualifications.
The board needed to begin looking for a new school superintendent to fill the position left open when current Superintendent Greg East gave the board his letter of resignation which was accepted at a special July 9 board meeting.
In his letter to the board, East said he would resign as of July 31, but was willing to help out as an interim superintendent beyond that date, until the board could fill the position.
A review of the special meeting July 9 by Board Chairman Fred Blaser, reminded board members, as well as those in attendance, that the only decision made made by the board at that meeting, was to reduce the superintendent’s position to half-time.
“We talked about hiring Mr. (Joe) Miller part-time (as interim superintendent) and we talked about changing the high school principal (Scott Fitzsimonds) to half-time and making him half-time superintendent,” Blaser said.
Fitzsimonds is currently not certified to be a superintendent, although he is working on becoming licensed.
In order for the board to hire someone uncertified, a variance is required and in order to receive a variance the board has to advertise for the position, according to East, who had spoke with the school’s attorney and the Minnesota School Board of School Administrators.
While the board accepts applications for the combination administrative position, East has agreed to stay on as interim superintendent until Aug. 21, receiving a daily rate for days worked and health and dental insurance for up to three months, depending on how many additional weeks he works.
Board Member Joe Miller suggested hiring a part-time interim superintendent for a longer period of time.
“I like the idea of moving forward with the combination position, but I don’t think we should be in a hurry,” Miller said.
“I would strongly recommend an interim for six months to get the school year started and give the school board the opportunity to really look at what they want in that position,” Miller said
Board member Rollie Radtke agreed with Miller. He had looked at last year’s budget and said hiring a part-time interim superintendent for a few months would still save the school money.
“You could hire someone who actually has the experience to be a superintendent for the school,” Radtke said.
The vote to move forward with the advertising for a 50 percent superintendent and 50 percent high school principal until July 31 was split 4-1 with Miller abstaining.
Jim Jorgenson, Chester Hoernemann, Blaser and Karla Heigl voted yes. Radtke voted no.
Test scores put LP on ‘School Improvement’
East announced that a letter is being drafted to Lester Prairie parents, telling them poor Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA II) test scores for the second year in a row will put Lester Prairie on “school improvement.”
To be on school improvement is a formal acknowledgement that the school is not meeting the challenge of successfully teaching all of its students, according to the department of education.
“We can get out of it, but it took two years to get here. It will take two years to get out,” East said.
For the last two years in mathematics the school has not made adequate yearly progress (AYP), according to East.
“Last year, in the fall it was the high school who did not make it, and this year math proficiency was not made at the elementary level. We have no choice. We will be on school improvement,” East said.
East told the board that the school beginning the response to intervention (RTI) last fall was a step in the right direction.
“We already knew we had some of these issues,” East said. “It is just that the testing itself has now said, ‘You shall fix this.’ We already were doing it and knew that things needed to be taken care of.”
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• approved contracts for the following certified positions: Greg Landkammer - science teacher; Carolyn Maas - summer school; Jan Smith - summer school.
• approved the contract for Kelly Elling - community ed and payroll clerk, a non-certified position.
• approved contracts for the following extra-curricular positions: Monica Hertzog - junior high volleyball; Wes Kapping - junior high football; Wes Kapping - asst. track; Tony Kley - junior high football; Emily Lynch - varsity volleyball; and Terri Schuft-Helland - elementary and high school band performance.
• community education activities for 2009-10 will be 10 percent of the cost of each activity or a minium of $2.
• approved new carpet for rooms 117, 168, 176, and 178 by Bergmann’s Country Interiors at a cost of $5,516.
• approved renewing membership in the Minnesota School Board Association for $2,500.
• approved Riverport Insurance for property, casualty and liability insurance for $16,055.
• approved Riverport Insurance for workman’s comp at $13,218.