Approximately 25 St. James students from grades six through ten peaceably assembled at the high school parking lot to protest the possible reassignment of sixth grade teacher Kyle Blomgren to second grade. The students marched from the high school down Armstrong Blvd. to Armstrong School where the students attended the School Board meeting. Story on the School Board monthly meeting inside. See a video of the protest march on our website - stjamesnews.com
The big issue that caused some controversy and consternation before the School Board on Monday night wasn’t on the agenda.
It had to deal with the school district administration’s reassignment of highly respected sixth grade teacher Kyle Blomgren to a position as a second grade teacher at Northside.
About ten minutes before the Community Connection part of the Board meeting, approximately 25 students who currently have or have had Blomgren as a teacher assembled at the high school, and with signs of support waving in the breeze marched down Armstrong Boulevard chanting pro Blomgren slogans.
They went to the School Board meeting at Armstrong School and sat in the crowd. While the students who ranged in age from sixth grade to sophomores were quiet, there were plenty of people in the crowd of adults who spoke on the subject and castigated the administration and the School Board for contemplating the action of taking Blomgren out of the sixth grade classroom where he has 20 years of experience.
Much of the frustration that people and students were expressing came from unfounded rumors.
It was rumored before the meeting that Blomgren would resign if he was reassigned to teach second grade and even that he had already resigned.
Blomgren said this was not true. He has not submitted a letter of resignation.
There were rumors that he did not hear about this from the administration, but from Northside teachers congratulating him on coming over to that school. Not true according to Blomgren.
Another rumor was that he had been introduced to his replacement before being told by the administration.
Again, this was not true, but according to Superintendent Becky Cselovszki a teacher has been hired to replace Blomgren as the teacher of sixth grade.
Blomgren told me that at the end of April he was told he was being reassigned to Northside. That was where his teaching position would be next year.
It is within the authority of the administration to do this. It also does not require approval by the School Board.
Those may be the by the book requirements, but the community of St. James wasn’t buying by the book.
Numerous people at the meeting spoke on behalf of Blomgren and criticized the administration and School Board for letting this action happen.
School Board Chairman Bill Brown began to say the Board’s job was about governance. He didn’t get too far with this line of reasoning before many people in the audience interrupted him and disagreed with his line of reasoning. It was clear from those attending the meeting that Blomgren is deeply appreciated and respected and the community members attending the meeting strongly believe he should not be removed from sixth grade.
Asked to comment on the expression of support at the Board meeting Blomgren wrote to me, “The support from our community, current students, students from my first class back in 1990 as well as parents of all those students has been overwhelming.
“The connections that I have been able to forge between this level of student and myself are obvious. I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to work with this level of student as long as I have.”
After this comment period the Board proceeded with it’s regularly scheduled meeting.
In consent items, the Board approved the bills for April and the acceptance of gifts and bequests.
The Board approved the hiring of 14 people for various teaching and staff positions for the next school year. It also approved the resignation and retirements of 5 people from District positions.
In other news the Board approved the 2013-2014 school year calendar. The approved calendar was different than the tentative one approved last meeting. It began the school year before Labor Day and ended the school year before Memorial Day. The approved calendar starts classes after Labor Day and graduation is June 1, 2014.
The Board approved the purchase of a truck from Chuck Spaeth Ford in the amount of $19,900.
A custodial contract was approved. They approved a contract for a Veritime time clock system.
The Board approved resolutions concerning the nonrenewal of teaching contracts for probationary teachers Heather Missling and Brian Doty.
Principals Ted Simon and Karla Beck delivered their reports on the activities at their respective schools. Beck updated the Board on the progress concerning the SIG grant.
Cselovszki shared with the Board a letter from the Gopher Conference Secretary. At the last meeting the Board requested St. James Area be permitted to join the Gopher Conference. The Secretary of the conference said that at a May 8th meeting that SJA’s application was voted down by the Superintendents. Increased travel distance for conference schools was the main factor for this decision.
Cselovszki said the SCC and the Southwest Conference will be meeting later this month to discuss options that may lead to some conference changes.
Cselovszki requested the Board change its meeting date in June. That request was acceptable, so the next School Board meeting will be June 17, 2013.