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home : government : government July 24, 2014

2/15/2013 10:57:00 AM
School board approves first round of reductions

by Nora Bryson

The Cannon Falls School Board heard about the new PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support) Program and approved all but one (the 0.2 nurse reduction) of the "Breakfast Club's" recommended "Round I Reductions" at their meeting Monday night, Feb. 11. School safety and ramifications of the Affordable Care Act were briefly discussed.

Teachers Kristin Kirk, Kathy Sessions, and Anne Davisson gave a 20 minute presentation on the new PBIS program being used at both the elementary and the middle school/high school (MS/HS). The program seeks to reinforce good behavior with rewards as opposed to punishing students when they do something wrong.

It uses a four-part "behavioral matrix" that "clearly defines rules and expectations" and is incorporated into their slogan of "Keeping it REAL" (Respect, Effort, Attitude, and Learning). Students caught in the act of doing something good are put into the SWIS (School-Wide Information System). The MS/HS is currently focusing on reducing the number of tardies. Students without any tardies receive special, out of class time during the regular school day. At the elementary, students receive a ticket making them eligible for the weekly drawing and having their picture in the Beacon.

Reductions approved

The board approved the following reductions as previously discussed at their January 28 meeting: $3,200 saved by eliminating Special Education Coordinator stipends; $2,778 by eliminating "music supervisors" at events and replacing them with volunteers; $11,825 (approximately 10%) reduction in HS instructional supplies; $5,000 less for "operations equipment"; $500 by eliminating c-squad boys basketball (there is no C-squad girls team) clock operators and replacing with volunteers similar to what volleyball already does; and $2,000 by requiring more sports uniform rotations. The same savings of $12,252 that was originally proposed to come from eliminating one district cashier was found by reducing the secretarial staff hours by 30 minutes per person per day (the move is considered an administrative cut).

Board Chair Bob Brintnall changed the nursing reduction ($7,194 in savings by reducing the district's responsibility for nursing costs from 2.2 full time equivalent down to 2.0 and charging Riverside and Community Education - Pre-school mainly - for services rendered) to discussion only, citing the number of emails he had received. Board member Pat Dougherty concurred, stating parents whose children have allergies are concerned about putting those students at risk.

Superintendent Beth Giese emphasized that, regardless of where the board ended up on the amount of nursing time, the Cannon Falls district would no longer pick up the tab for the Goodhue County Education District's Riverside program. She said that "currently" the students enrolled at the ALC did not require nursing staff, but she admitted that could change. She felt Goodhue County should pick up at least a year's worth of nursing for the ALC. She said implementation of the new All-day, Every-day Kindergarten program would not increase the nurses' work load as most of the students already attended Cannon Kids.

Nurse Julie Phelps thanked the board for giving the matter a second look. She explained that other schools did not have the overlap time because they provided a nursing secretary to do the mounds of administrative paperwork. She reminded the board that when they changed to four part-time nurses, it was to save the district money yet still cover both buildings. She said the current system was less chaotic and ensured nothing was missed or overlooked.

Teacher Terry Ruud asked if Community Education could pay for its pre-school share of the nursing costs. Giese responded that they simply didn't have the $7,000; especially now with the proposed state funding cuts. Ruud countered that perhaps they could "just pay a portion...as a way to ease that cost...maybe a flat dollar amount." Giese liked the idea and will see if maybe they can find $1,500 from Community Ed's budget.

Brintnall said he would get copies of the nursing contracts so a decision can be made at the next meeting.

The previously proposed $30,000 saved by "reconfiguring" the technology coordinator position to better utilize technology vender Marco (basically a type of out-sourcing) was not on the agenda.

Conceal and Carry?

Siebenaler reported that he had been asked about allowing certified Conceal and Carry staff members to voluntarily carry in an effort to better protect the school. Brintnall and High School Principal Tim Hodges immediately rejected the idea. Dougherty felt there were "just too many questions." Board members Jerry Reinardy and Brenda Owens expressed their disapproval.

Changing to a parent hat, this reporter asked to be recognized and stated concern that the district office staff and teachers were unfairly asked to be sitting ducks and defenseless human shields for children if denied the right to protect themselves. Denying qualified staff from carrying will not make the kids feel safer; especially when they're made to practice intruder alerts on a regular basis.

Brintnall ended the discussion stating the differences in philosophy.

Giese reported that she was working with the city and "is real close" to having a police liaison for the campus, that the message of superintendents at the Legislative Forum to state representatives was a resounding, "STOP UNFUNDED MANDATES," and that the new health care reform was "going to take a toll on schools"-noting that every employee must be offered the same exact health insurance and the fines (to opt out) alone were estimated at $640,000 for the district and that was going to be cheaper than providing coverage.

The next meeting will be Monday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. Agenda items are voting on Round 2 reductions, action on the 0.2 nursing reduction, and approving the revised 2012-13 budget Spring Assistant coaches list.



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