By Jon Tatting—
Last December, the Rush City School Board approved the Teacher Master Agreement with a total package increase of $215,073 (4.87 percent) for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 contract years.
At its regular meeting on Feb. 16, the board also approved the following compensation for other employees over the same two-year time period. (Note: compensation amounts are divided among each employee in his or her group)
• Total package increases of $14,951 (5.23 percent) for clerical/clerk typist staff (22 members) and other individuals who are on schedules. Removed was the 60-day waiting period for health insurance retroactive to Feb. 1, 2012.
• Total package increases of $9,955 (4.54 percent) for transportation staff (14 members).
• A market adjustment of $6,000 for the technology coordinator’s salary.
• Total package increases of $23,634 (4.85 percent) for the eight district individuals who are not on schedules.
• A total package increase of $14,955 (4.87 percent) for the principals’ contract (Principal Master Agreement).
• A one-year agreement, 2012-13, with the activities director, with no increase to salary or benefits.
• A total package increase of $18,589 (5.41 percent) for the custodian contract (six members, Teamster Local 320).
• A comparable worth adjustment of $19,611 to salaries and the district contribution to health insurance premiums, along with a total package increase of $49,260 (5.48 percent) for the food service/paraprofessional contract (34 members, Teamster Local 320).
Board member Brian Anderson did abstain from voting on the food service/paraprofessional contract.
High school news
In his report the board, high school principal Stuart Fuhs congratulated the girls gymnastics team for winning the Section 4A Gymnastics Championship.
Set to compete in the state tournament are Kayla Forcier, Bailey Mollberg, Bailey Murawski, Kylee Berube (Pine City), Cassidy Dunkley (Hinckley-Finlayson), Taniel Schellbach, Katelyn Meier and Alecia Meier.
Fuhs noted the Rush City Junior High Speech team completed another successful season, finishing in third place out of 17 teams at the Two Rivers Conference meet.
At the meet, Krista Malchow earned sixth and Brittney Mollberg, fifth, in serious poetry; Sam Miller, fifth, humorous poetry; Hannah Fleischhacker, fourth, drama; Collin Yaritz, fourth, creative expression; Devan Larson, fifth, and Emily Anderson, second, extemp speaking; Sara Johnson, second, informative; and Najhalie Williams and Sadie Graham finished fourth and Brittany Bergren and Shayla McKinney-Buck took first in duet acting.
Thirty-five students in grades 7-9 participated throughout the season; the students’ awards are on display at the high school.
Fuhs recognized the Rush City Jazz Band for performing at the Braham Jazz Festival on Feb. 15, while seniors Justin Marty and Brooke Hein represented Rush City in the Conference Honors Jazz.
In Senior High Speech, continued Fuhs, Rush City took fourth place at the Ogilvie Invitational where Marissa Belau placed fifth in extemporaneous reading, Devan Larson, third, in extemporaneous speaking, while the team improved on its scores over last season, he said.
In her report, Jacobson Elementary principal Melody Tenhoff said “I Love to Read Month” is going well and congratulated the Knowledge Bowl on taking home multiple trophies in recent competition.
She said the Pennies for Patients effort has once again led to a good “lesson beyond the classroom” for students. She was pleased to note that students have reached a 72 percent proficiency rating so far in the state-mandated MCA test.
Also, the school’s homework club for parents has begun. The program meets the district’s Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) plan that, in part, emphasizes more interaction with parents, said Tenhoff.
Early Childhood coordinator Julie Thom was not present at the meeting but submitted her report the board. She noted all preschool and ECFE sections are full, with enrollment at 66 students among the four sections of preschool.
Thom noted early childhood students have greatly improved on a variety of literacy skills, from rhyming to letter naming, from fall to winter.
And technology is impacting the early childhood classroom on a daily basis, as students are using SMARTboards and iPads and staff has incorporated the use of the SMART response system. “We are finding the resource to be quite valuable,” said Thom.
Meanwhile, she added, Early Childhood Special Education continues to see tremendous growth.
In other news, the board:
• Supported, by consensus, the Rush City Softball Association to construct a storage shed, with bathrooms, at the ball fields.
• Discussed replacing the deteriorating roof structure at the district’s Rec Center as early as this year. The proposed roof is projected to cost $290,000, with a longer life expectancy (30-plus years) that requires less maintenance. The board agreed with Superintendent Vern Koepp that replacing it now will be less expensive in the long run.
• Accepted Electronic Design Company to upgrade the audio system in the high school gymnasium under the company’s basic plan, which costs $3,000.
• Approved a resolution directing administrators to make recommendations for reductions in programs and positions for possible future consideration.
• Acknowledged board member Stephanie Folkema’s concern over the district’s use of facilities and equipment policy. She questioned why it appears some organizations are required to pay for using a school building and others are not charged when holding events for students. The board agreed to discuss the issue further at a study session.
• Received praise from Superintendent Vern Koepp who announced that the week of Feb. 20-24 is Minnesota School Board Association Week, when school boards across the state are recognized for their leadership in the community.