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A-R has reduction in force

By Staff | Apr 23, 2008

The Armstrong-Ringsted Community School District Monday night terminated two teachers in order to trim the district budget.

The reduction in force targeted positions that could be absorbed by other staff, said Superintendent Randy Collins. Collins said he hopes to rely on early retirements and attrition to keep future costs down.

“We’ll look really hard at just absorbing the positions rather than hiring new,” Collins said.

Teachers whose contracts will not be renewed after this school year are Shawna Ross, family consumer science instructor at the high-school and junior-high levels, and Susan Mensch, half-time kindergarten teacher and half-time elementary aide. Collins said the reduction in force will save the district $62,000 a year.

Two other teachers have accepted the district’s $10,000 offer for early retirements. They include Diane Mather and Juliane Thiesse.

In other business coming before the board Monday night, James Fitzgerald, math instructor for fourth and fifth grades, reviewed the Math Trailblazers program. Fitzgerald said the program offered students hands-on experience with math, it is flexible, and encourages student thinking.

Maintenance Director Tom Mart reviewed district 2008 building and renovation projects.

Projects include:

n Removing asbestos from tunnels in Ringsted and Armstrong and reinsulating piping, $96,680.

n Condensation pump in Armstrong, $8,000.

n Flooring-carpet in teacher work room in Ringsted, $2,000.

n Restroom updates in Ringsted, $5,500 plus labor.

n Sump pump in boiler room, $2,000.

n Limestone edge of blacktop and fence lines, $2,000.

n Powerpoint projectors, $1,000 each for $5,000 total.

n ICN room relocation, cost undetermined.

n Tractor and loader, $13,000.

n Security cameras, $10,000.

Mart said landscaping in front of the Armstrong building, with an estimated cost of $5,864, could be deferred until a year from this summer when Iowa Lakes Community College students in the turfgrass program could do the project, resulting in a substantial savings.

Athletic Director Nathan Hanson reported on various upcoming events, including the upcoming girls softball tournament and boys track meet. Upcoming renovation projects include the softball dugout and crow’s nest at the football field.

Principal Matt Berninghaus reported in preparations for prom this Saturday. Berninghaus also said Armstrong-Ringsted students had won the 9th annual Iowa State University catapult competition, scoring 91 out of a possible 100 points. A-R was the only team to hit the target five out of five times at the maximum distance of 120 feet. Team members included Brett Tigges, Spencer Taylor, Justin Burkhart, Shaun Ash, and Craig Tigges.

Berninghaus also reported on Project Lead the Way and the occupational foods class which will host a themed restaurant each Wednesday from 12:13-12:49. Cuisine will include Italian, American, Asian, and Mexican. Community members and A-R staff are invited to call 868-3542 to take part in activities.

Berninghaus said 18-19 seniors are taking the senior trip to Florida the first week of May.

In another matter, Berninghaus discussed a possible summer school program to help junior-high students complete course deficiencies. Students would repeat work on standards in which they were deficient and not complete classes.

Regarding eligibility for extracurricular activities, Berninghaus said prom has been included as an activity requiring academic eligibility. He said he would prefer that all students without behavioral infractions be allowed to attend prom as well as awards night and graduation.

Berninghaus said he would also like to eliminate a policy in which two D grades are considered equal to an F. He said he would like to include the change in policy as an action item at the next board meeting.

In his superintendent’s report, Collins updated the board on Senate File 447 addressing sharing agreements with other districts and local governments. The district receives the equivalent in state aid for six to eight students for every sharing agreement in place. Collins said he would like to share all five positions eligible for the agreement.

Collins also told the board that if approved as a pre-K funded school, the district could receive an additional $80,000 in state money with no local match required. He said he would learn by June if the district qualifies for the funding.

Collins also discussed possible changes in student selection for the multiage elementary classroom. Previously random selection was considered. However, Collins said student suitability for the multiage environment, teacher recommendations, parent support, and test scores might be other factors to consider.

In other business, the board:

n Approved a list of 41 students for graduation.

n Approved fees of $175 for district residents and $225 for nonresidents for the driver education program.

n Approved a wrestling agreement with Emmetsburg at $500 and cross country with Estherville Lincoln Central at $250.

n Set the next board meeting for 7 p.m. May 27.