Baker's dozen of retirements accepted
After approving a reconfiguration plan earlier this month that will reduce the district's teaching ranks by 7.3 elementary positions, among other reductions, the Ellsworth School Board accepted 13 teacher resignations Monday.
The resignations, due to retirement, are from: Judy Bostrom, second grade teacher at Hillcrest Elementary; Barbara Carpenter, third grade teacher at Prairie View Elementary; Kerry Christopherson, family consumer education teacher at the middle school; Dave Kastberg, social studies teacher at the middle school; Chris Keenan, English teacher at the middle school; Mary Klaustermeier, sixth grade teacher at the middle school; Cheryl McCardle, fourth grade teacher at Hillcrest Elementary; Bruce Peterson, fourth grade teacher at Sunnyside Elementary; Jane Reis, third grade teacher at Lindgren Elementary; Linda Ross, special education teacher at the middle school; Bobbie Sawyers, second grade teacher at Lindgren Elementary; Chuck Schmidt, math teacher at the high school; and Jeanette Wright, first grade teacher at Prairie View Elementary.
Board President Scott Helmer acknowledged the loss of significant combined experience represented by all of those resigning, but said these retirements will help with the upcoming reconfiguration process. Superintendent Dan Kaler agreed, later announcing the first meeting of a transition committee expected to deal with reconfiguration was scheduled for Tuesday of this week.
In other business:
--Board Member Rick Kornmann of the buildings and grounds committee reported the local Army Reserve Center will move and level earth south of the middle school to create a couple of softball fields, using the long-planned project as a training opportunity. The committee has also arranged for 13 Requests for Proposal to be sent to architectural engineering firms so professional assistance with proposed elementary school and swimming pool upgrades can be obtained, Kornmann said. Updating the sound system in the high school cafetorium has been discussed by committee members as well, another effort which may benefit from architectural engineering input.
--Open enrollment applications were approved, although the district won't stand costs for programs and services elsewhere that are offered here, such as special education, when applicants want to transfer out. Kaler indicated two applications have been received for students not presently attending local schools and one for a student already in the local schools to transfer in. Seventeen applications have been received to transfer out for students not currently attending local schools and six for students already attending here. In another enrollment issue, he later announced kindergarten enrollment for the next school year is expected to be on the low end of an anticipated range of between 90 and 100.
--Calendars for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years, first presented to the board last month, were adopted with a few changes. As explained by Curriculum and Instruction Director Leona Johnson, the modifications involve making staff development time more ongoing plus adding early outs on several days. Kornmann questioned the need to alter the schedule over two consecutive weeks in some cases, citing a concern about instructional time.
--EHS Band Director Dan Kayhart offered plans for a band trip to San Antonio, Tex., in 2008. Board action was tabled until after dates are more firmly established.
--Storm make-up days designated as April 9 and June 8 will be used for staff purposes and not be student contact days, according to board action. Kaler assured board members state requirements about face-to-face student days will still be met.
--Co-Chairs Steve Broton and Greg Place of a Safe Trails Grant committee outlined the $196,220 grant proposal. If awarded, the grant would fund a 10-foot-wide trail system surfaced with asphalt and/or cement plus featuring lighting, to be installed throughout the community in three phases. A first priority would be the vicinity from St. Francis School to Hillcrest Elementary School, the high school and middle school, with phases addressing the county fairgrounds area and Hwy. 65 north, and beyond the middle school coming later. Additionally, pedestrian crossings at Main and Piety streets and Main and Plum streets would be improved. The project would take three years to complete and construction wouldn't start before next year; announcement of grant awards is expected this July or August.