Archived Story

Band funds top $70,000

Published 10:58am Tuesday, January 15, 2013 Updated 11:03am Tuesday, January 15, 2013

In an unusual twist of timing, the Fergus Falls School Board approved the high school marching band’s trip to Washington D.C., three days before the group is scheduled to leave.

“It normally wouldn’t happen this way,” explained Superintendant Jerry Ness. “We’ll address approval earlier if something like this comes up again.”

Considering the band has now raised more than $70,000 in private donations — $10,000 ahead of its $60,000 goal — it wasn’t a difficult vote.

Band directors Scott Kummrow, Denise Wiese and Josh McGowan were present to give the board on an update on the band’s itinerary, and fundraising. Kummrow said he will make a report on what the additional funds are being used for, which includes providing students with a per diem to pay for meals, and some incidentals such as “beanie” hats for the band to wear under their band uniform, and winter weight marching gloves, for playing in cold weather.

• Superintendent Jerry Ness reported that Gov. Mark Dayton has proclaimed January 14-18 as Paraprofessional Recognition Week to recognize the valuable contributions of paraprofessionals in Minnesota’s public schools.

• Congratulations were given to the following students who have been selected to be a part of the Minnesota Band Directors Association Region Honor Band Festival in January: Evan Aanerud, Emily Keller, Gabe Enderle, Zachary Kunz, Erica Wahlund, Mason Davis, Rebecca Hofmann and Lexi Svensgaard.

• During Melanie Cole’s Special Education report, she noted that the number of special education students in the district is down by 57 students, for a total of 888 students receiving services. This is due in part an overall decrease in enrollment.

• In Matt Lemke’s finance committee report, he said that according to State Auditor’s report, the teacher’s retirement fund is not meeting expectations.

According to the report, the long-term financial health of the retirement system is dependent on future investment returns and contributions. While contributions to the fund have increased, the funded ratio is expected to remain at 70 percent unless changes are made. In order for the funded ratio to reach 100 percent by June 30, 2037, contributions would have to increase beyond the scheduled rates, benefits would have to be lowered, or favorable investment returns would have to occur.

“The Legislature gets this report, they make the decision,” said Lemke. “This is why you need to talk to your legislators about these issues.”

• In the Superintendant’s report, Ness reported that the new kindergarten through fifth grade portion of IQ Academy is growing. The K-5 group went from 7 to 18 students since the start-up on Jan. 7.

• Personnel changes for the district include:

Support staff resignations: Patti Boen, truancy interventionist/ISS supervisor, effective Dec.12; Randy Irmen, noon hour supervisor, effective Dec. 14.

Support Staff Hires: Michael Swenson, special education paraprofessional at Cleveland – effective Jan.2; Stephanie Leslie, special education paraprofessional at Cleveland, effective Jan.2; Tiffany Hanson, noon hour supervisor, effective Jan.2.

Certified Staff Resignation: Mitch Grunig, secondary teacher, effective Jan.22.

Certified Staff Retirement: Carmen Nelson, secondary art/Spanish teacher, effective April 2. The board passed a resolution during the meeting recognizing Nelson’s 35 years of service to the school district.

• The board also approved that April 1 is added to the school calendar, because of last Friday’s ice day, and that a school board meeting will be held on Columbus Day, which needed to be voted on because it is a holiday.

• Minor changes were approved to school policies. Information on the policy changes can be found on the district’s website.

• Mark Masten presented a Memorandum of Agreement with Lakes Country Service Cooperative.

“For those employees that are in the Lakes Country Service Cooperative insurance pool, they’ll be able to take an online health assessment and be paid $200,” said Masten. “They will receive a packet with wellness recommendations for them.”

Data will be used by LCSC, anonymously, to make recommendations to the school board for health and wellness initiatives. There is no cost to the school district and participation is voluntary.

“It’s just another way for people to live a healthier life,” said Tarma Carlson. “It ultimately may reduce future insurance costs.”

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