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Kelliher School Board hires new bus drivers, approves new bus route

Members of the Kelliher School Board met Sept. 15 with a full agenda including adding a new bus route due to increased enrollment, hiring two bus drivers and approving a lease in the Old Kelliher School for Chiropractic Sport and Spinal Rehab of Bemidji.

Before the board got down to business, it acknowledged visitors Ryan and Bridget Stomberg, Betty Mohs, Nicole Persons, Jamie Hands, Mary Lundin, John Carlson, Wendy Carlson, Calvin Mayer, Dave Hanson, Linda Dreher and Laura Nelson.

Once that was done, they approved the minutes from the Aug. 11 regular meeting, the treasurer's reports and September bills in the amount of $129,306.23.

Nicole Persons addressed the board regarding her request for an increase in pay and temporary increase in hours in order to prepare for the community library grand opening Oct. 6.

John Carlson presented the board with the recently released MCA math scores. The board heard news about how Kelliher School students scored well above the state average at every grade level except one and scored higher than the state as a district.

Bridgette Stomberg introduced herself to the board and talked about the upcoming community/school Christmas play, It's A Wonderful Life.

Following a short discussion, the board approved hiring Stomberg as play director at 3 percent, Step 0 for $1,074.75.

The board received cards from Christina Grundmeier and Katey Lutz, thanking them for their support of the trip to the FCCLA National Convention in Anaheim, CA this summer.

The board will be sending a thank you to the retired couple who have so generously donated school supplies to the Kelliher students this year.

Under the Dean of Students report, the board was told that the school year was off to a great start. Donations of school supplies had been received, t peer tutor program supported by members of the National Honor Society was being implemented and were informed about plans for Homecoming week. These activities were planned by the football cheerleaders and the student council.

Supt. Tim Lutz shared results with the board from the Blandin Foundation's Hope Study, of which Kelliher has been a participant for the past three years.

He updated the board on the recent bus driver hiring and the need to add an additional route due to the increase in enrollment.

He explained that staff workshop days in August were busy and productive and that negotiations with Education Minnesota-Kelliher are continuing, with the negotiators having met with representatives of the teachers' union just prior to the board meeting.

He told the board that current enrollment was at 247 and that the Aug. 31 open house was well attended.

Lutz also informed the board that he is currently in negotiations with a chiropractor from Bemidji who is interested in leasing space at the Old School Center.

Discussion was held on the request from the Meals on Wheels program to serve daily meals in the lobby at the Old School Center. Although the board was very supportive of the program, it was their general consensus that another place, such as the North Beltrami Community Center, would be a better fit for their request.

A discussion was then held regarding the need for a part-time paraprofessional in the elementary.

Lutz updated the board on the new drug and alcohol testing policy and reported that there is an ecumenical community group requesting to use the school facilities periodically for different activities for kids of all ages.

He also requested that the board consider increasing the hours temporarily for Persons in order to prepare for the grand opening of the library.

The board was told that there had been a request by an instructor from MSU-Moorhead to research public records of the Kelliher School in order to study retention and graduation rates in small, rural schools and that there had been a request to use the school facilities for a benefit dinner Oct. 16 for Jude Smischney.

The board voted to approve the first reading of policy #416 - Kelliher School Drug and Alcohol Testing.

Following a discussion, the request from Meals on Wheels was not granted due to the lack of a motion and a second.

Mike Jorgensen was hired as a regular bus driver at Step 1 for $14.72/hour and Rob Koisti as a regular bus driver for the additional route at Step 1 for $14.72/hour.

The addition route was approved due to increased enrollment as was the lease request for space at the Old School Center for the chiropractic clinic.

Chase Pink was hired as a substitute custodian before the board voted to approve increasing Persons' hours temporarily to 20 hours/week in order to prepare for the community library grand opening.

The meeting was then closed for Education MN-Kelliher negotiations strategy as permitted by Minnesota statutes.

A little more than half an hour later, the meeting was opened and then adjourned.