3/29/2013 10:12:00 AM School board approves new round of cuts
By Nora Bryson
The Cannon Falls School Board approved the Superintendent's 3-year contract, the 3rd grade shared teaching position, and Sue Sand's retirement, discussed Round III cuts, and heard a report on Community Education at their March 25 meeting.
Superintendent Beth Giese's title will no longer be preceded by "Interim" now that her probationary period is over and the board has signed her to a new, 3-year contract. Board members Pat Dougherty and Rob Siebenaler, who sat in on the negotiations, explained the details. Giese will receive a salary of $110,000 in 2014, $112,000 in 2015, and $114,000 in 2016. There is no severance package.
Board Chair Bob Brintnall stated that the starting rate for superintendents in Minnesota is usually $120,000 and that the district's previous Superintendent, Todd Sesker, made more in 2010 than Giese will in 2016. Giese responded that, while she was still the lowest paid in the HVL, she felt it was a "win-win' because of her love for the district, the Cannon Falls community, and the ability to remain here with her children.
The board approved Lori Jackson and Sue Samuelson's shared 3rd grade teaching position for the 2013-14 school year. Giese noted that, having her own child attend this class, she could attest to the seamless communications and lesson flow between two teachers. This is the 4th year they have shared the position and, according to Giese, there is $0 cost to the district.
The board regretfully accepted Sue Sand's retirement request. Members and Giese noted Sand's dedication and willingness to serve at various grade levels over the years. Sand currently teaches 3rd grade. Her retirement is effective at the end of the 2012-13 school year.
The board discussed the following Round III Budget Reductions: 1) $10,000 by utilizing Andy Sandstrom's SafeLink contracted bus-driver option; 2) $16,600 in speech reductions; 3) $38,454 from utilizing a retirement to re-shuffle staff and create a 0.6 FTE English and 0.4 FTE Special Education reduction at the High School; 4) $48,484 by eliminating a 1.0 FTE Elementary Physical Education (PE) teacher; 5) $25,000 by reducing the Staff Development Budget (teachers must still vote on this); 6) $ 5,000 by reducing paper usage and going to iPads; 7) $1,200 by eliminating two district cell phones; and 8) increasing revenues by $12,500 by increasing the price for school lunches by $0.10 to bring them more into alignment with MN state mandates requiring lunches be a minimum of $2.52 by 2016. Round III cuts total $157,238.
Brintnall and Giese explained how having SafeLink employ the bus drivers and take care of dispatching and routing was the best transportation alternative. It allowed the district to maintain its assets (the buses, the land, and the garage) while savings huge amounts in worker's comp and health insurance (SafeLink would be below the 50-employee ObamaCare threshold). According to the district's lawyers, there is no need to go out for bids because it would be considered a "continuing contract" with Sandstrom. Some details (like who carries the passenger insurance) are still being worked out, but Giese was confident it would come together before the next meeting. The intension is to sign a two-year, trial contract.
Board Member Curt Beissel noted the "hesitation" in Elementary Principal Derek Bell's voice and stated his own concerns over "cutting PE in this sedentary society." Bell felt there were still ways to ensure the children had PE. But more importantly, he felt it was "better to impact PE as opposed to the regular classroom." Currently, they are looking at doubling the sizes of the PE classes at the elementary.
Dougherty was concerned about who was having their cell phone taken and how that might impact school safety and security, "especially when we've cut the staff so short." Giese listed the six employee who have school phones and why. She reassured him that everyone who needed a cell phone had one and are billed at the reduced, "government rate."
Consideration to approve these cuts/increases will be part of the April 8 agenda. If passed and taken together with the Round I cuts of $38,057 + Round II cuts of $126,761, the board will still be $31,944 away from their goal of $354,000. The Finance Committee will look into the pros and cons of drawing down the district's fund balance again this year as opposed to further cuts.
Community Education Coordinator and Athletic Director Jake Winchell reported on programs and enrollment. Community Education has programs serving people from toddler throughout adulthood with everything from family interactions in ECFE (Early Childhood and Family Education) and childcare, to youth enrichment (math league, Lego Robots, etc) and sports, to adult education enrichment (yoga, Zumba, 55-Alive, etc). Winchell is also responsible for scheduling practice and game times for the 15 high school sports teams and almost 40 outside groups that have used fieldhouse, gym, and auditorium so far this year; to date, a total of 7,394 hours.
High School Principal Tim Hodges invited everyone to attend the HVL Arts Show being held at the Rochester Art Center. There are 10-12 exhibits by Cannon Falls students.
Dougherty reminded everyone of the Education Foundation's fundraiser on Saturday, April 20 at the Mill Street Tavern.
The Board's summer meeting dates are scheduled as follows: May 20, June 24, July 22, August 26, and September 23. The board only meets once a month during the Summer.
The next meeting will be Monday, April 8 at 6 p.m. Agenda items are approval of Round III Reductions, a presentation by Cherie Johnson of the Goodhue County Education District regarding the need for more space (building vs. purchase and remodel of Wastedo from Cannon Falls District) for that program, approval of the Activities Handbook, approval of a retirement request, an assessment of transportation, and a discussion of Fieldhouse maintenance and protection.