The monthly regularly scheduled meeting of the St. James School Board was held Monday night. The meeting was attended by about 50 members of the community.
The Board took some preliminary steps pertaining to the budget for the next school year. This involved approving a resolution proposing to place on unrequested leave of absence on three teachers. Those teachers are Jolene Danielson, Lynn Rolshoven and David Stordalen.
This is a written notice required by law. It was a notice not an action. A layoff was not approved on Monday.
Whether such a position reduction happens is contingent on how the budgetary process proceeds for the St. James School District. Factors that might impact that depend on the financial condition of the school district and are affected by facts like possible decreases in school enrollment.
In an e-mail sent to the Plaindealer District Superintendent Becky Cselovszki said, “This is a preliminary look at a proposed budget and this budget was not an action item last night. The three case scenario was created as a result to explore various options and justify any decision that the board moved forward with.
“You will notice that I do have an estimated savings of $70,000 in this budget, which is a result of the early retirement incentive and other staffing changes with the intent to bring in people lower on the pay scale.
“I am also assuming a 1% increase from the state, which is obviously not known yet. Our contracts have been coming in at the 3% inflationary figure.
“I hope to finalize the budget proposal in May, but with pending legislation that may or may not be possible.”
Stordalen is the fifth grade band teacher. His termination would impact the music programs at the public schools. Several teachers from the schools’ music programs expressed their concern over how such a cut would impact musical education in the school system.
When asked about that concern, the Superintendent responded, “I understand the music department's concerns. The proposed reduction does combine bands very similar to other districts our size.
“It is unfortunate that any of our specials need to be reduced, but with lack of resources and funding and the focus on reading and math, it is the only way to maintain a budget that is in the black.”
In other action, the Board rejected a bid for placing four portable classrooms at Northside. An RFP request went out last month. The idea was to move the sixth grade over to Northside. The bid came in way over what the Board was expecting. The upshot of this is that sixth grade will remain at the high school building next year.
Page 2 of 2 - The Board also approved an RFP submitted by Tammy Stevens on doing work to improve the website of the District.
It also approved security system upgrades, with the bulk of the work going into improving security at the high school.
The sports conference realignment push proceeded when the Board unanimously approved to make a formal request to the Gopher Conference to have all the sports of SJA participate in that conference.
Several Board members expressed their reservation about making this move. Michelle Mohlenbrock said that the original push was to have football only move into another conference or arrangement. She seemed reluctant to make a move that would involve all sports. In the end the Board did approve the motion.
The Board did approve a school calendar for the 2013-2014 school year. The school year will start before Labor Day on Aug. 29 and will end on May 22. Graduation for the seniors will be on May 18.
The Board approved the St. James Hall of Fame. The Hall will be an all sports Hall of Fame for St. James athletes and coaches. Teacher and Coach Jon Wilson made a presentation at the Board meeting.
The resignation of Head Wrestling Coach Gene Hildebrandt was accepted. Board Charmian Bill Brown said to Hidlebrandt, who was at the meeting, that, “You are a legend.” The audience broke into applause in appreciation of Coach Hildebrandt’s career.
The Board approved payment of the March bills in the amount of $1,039,806.57 and the acceptance of gifts in the amount of $5,632.63.
Principals gave their reports. Karla Beck at Northside gave an update that involved the School Improvement Grant efforts by the administration, teachers and staff.
Ted Simon of the High School said St. James’ graduation rate has been recognized as one of the highest in the state of Minnesota. This rate is based on the number of kids who enter in ninth grade and then graduate from the school. St. James is over 91 percent. That makes it one of the top district’s in the state.