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Bemidji School Board: Capital improvement projects approved

BEMIDJI – A list of capital improvement projects totaling almost $800,000 was approved by the Bemidji school board Monday night.

Two major projects included were replacing a large portion of the roof at Horace May Elementary and remodeling the kitchen at Paul Bunyan Elementary, said Chris Leinen, business services director for the school district.

“There’s two major projects that represent the lion’s share of the funds,” Leinen said. 

Leinen said the capital improvement cost of $799,195 is consistent with previous years.

“In general, we refer to it as our summer capital projects list because much of what we do in the summer can only be done in the summer,” Leinen said. “It might involve tearing down walls, building doors, anything sorts of things that can’t be done when students are there.”

Leinen also presented the board with a preliminary budget outlook for the coming fiscal year, which projects a budget deficit of about $865,000.

Leinen stressed that number reflects many variables including the state budget, federal sequestration and enrollment.

He added it’s a small portion of the district’s $54.7 million budget.

“These swings involved in these variables could be much more significant in that amount of money,” Leinen said. “So it’s important to keep relativity in mind when you’re looking at that number.”

He added the school board needs to adopt a budget before the end of June, and the budget projection helps start that conversation.

In other business

Four early release dates for staff development are included in the 2013-2014 Bemidji School District calendar.

The early release dates will be Nov. 13, Jan. 15, Feb. 12 and March 12. Teachers will begin school Aug. 26 with the school year running until June 3 for students. The total will be 173 student days and 183 teacher days.

The school board also approved changes in the administrative evaluation policy to bring it into compliance with the law.

The policy reflects the school board’s recognition that “accountability is a key factor in maintaining high performing schools” and creating a “consistent means for professional growth.”

Annual evaluations include the following:

– Strengthen principals’ capacities of instruction, supervision and teacher development.

–  Be consistent with principals’ job description and the district’s long term goals.

– On the job observations and previous evaluations.

– Surveys to help identify principals’ effectiveness.

Principals not meeting standards will undergo planning to improve performance. The policy also requires specific procedure and consequences if principals’ performance doesn’t improve.

Molly Miron contributed to this report

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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