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School accepts second resignation

Carrie Moore
Published: Thursday, December 12th, 2013

By Carrie Moore
The Custer School District Board of Education acknowledged the resignation submitted by payroll and accounts manager Erica Van Horn in executive session during Monday night’s meeting. Business manager Lisa Fluck will be responsible for hiring someone to fill that position.
The board will begin interviewing candidates for the interim superintendent position next Monday and have a number of applications for the position.
“The board has been directed to rank the applicants in order of most desirable to interview for the position,” said school attorney Tracy Kelley. “The top three applicants will be interviewed. If no suitable candidate is found, then the board will go through the remaining applicants.”
The board may also start the search for a permanent superintendent during next Monday’s special meeting.
During the regular board meeting, Custer Elementary School principal Heather Hiltunen requested that the board hire an additional paraprofessional to be split between both sixth grade classrooms, just for this school year. The enrollment for the sixth grade is 59 students, which is just over the optimal class size, according to the strategic plan.
According to Hiltunen, the two classes have other factors critical to the need of additional classroom support. Forty-four of the 59 students have been absent so far this school year, totaling 198.5 days, ranging from one to 17 days of absenteeism per student. Also, 153 assignments have been late and/or missing in the second quarter.
“This makes it very difficult to keep and to get students caught up with the Common Core Standard skills,” Hiltunen said.
According to Hiltunen, law enforcement was called on two occasions for two students disrupting school. The office deals with approximately five to 10 student discipline issues per day due to bullying, profanity, inappropriate gestures and compliance issues. Six students have spent a total of 17.5 days in either in- school suspension or out-of-school suspension. 
“How is that going to get better if we have another person in the classroom?” board member Brian Lintz asked. “We’re throwing money at an empty solution if they can’t catch up.”
Hiltunen said there has been talk about starting a “Friday Morning Breakfast Club” — just as the high school has — in order to catch students up. The elementary school has also established a “Ketchup Klub,” which helps students in fourth through sixth grades catch up on their work every afternoon. So far, seven sixth graders have taken advantage of the club, with more joining last week.
“Sometimes classes at 30 might not need that extra person, but these kids need that support,” she said. 
“If we don’t address this issue now, my concern is what is going to happen when they get to seventh grade and beyond,” said board president Tom Martin. “It really needed to be addressed earlier on.”
It was estimated it would cost around $7,000. The board voted to hire the paraprofessional.
The Hermosa Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) treasurer Kristy Lintz asked the board to consider helping purchase two new signs at the Hermosa school, one east bound and the second west bound.
“We began working with Jeremy (Hurd, Hermosa School principal) and fundraised a certain amount, hoping the school would help match what we raised,” she said.
The Hermosa PTA obtained quotes for the sign, installation and electric, totaling $20,770. The Hermosa PTA has saved $10,000 for the project, which would pay for one sign. The PTA also pulled a permanent sign permit from the town of Hermosa on Aug. 13, which the organization also paid for. Signs must be installed within a year from that date, otherwise the process would have to be re-issued.
“We’re sitting here with some expiring quotes and a time issue,” Kristy Lintz said. 
The board unanimously voted in favor of using money from the sale of the old administration building for the Hermosa PTA.
Also during the meeting:
• The board approved a $70,000 expenditure that will be refunded by a Homeland Security grant to purchase a generator and re-wire the schools. According to Joe Uhrich, head of buildings and grounds, purchasing a generator has always been in the district’s five-year plan. Eventually, Uhrich would like to purchase generators for the remaining two schools, but for now, they can be shared among the three buildings and used wherever they are needed the most. The board voted to spend the $70,000 for the generator and wait for more complete figures before voting for the re-wiring of the buildings.
• The board assigned Hurd to lead development of the district’s new employee evaluation system, which he helped develop at the state level. The assignment will transfer to the superintendent once the board hires that position. Until then, Hurd will give the board a month-to-month update.
• The board approved the second reading of section “G” and “H” and authorized the implementation of section “H” in the school’s policy manual. The board also approved the first reading of sections “I” and “J” in the policy manual, but agreed to host a discussion with teachers and administrators adding their input before the final voting.
The next Custer School District Board of Education meeting will be Jan. 13 at the Hermosa school.

The Custer School District Board of Education acknowledged the resignation submitted by payroll and accounts manager Erica Van Horn in executive session during Monday night’s meeting. Business manager Lisa Fluck will be responsible for hiring someone to fill that position.

The board will begin interviewing candidates for the interim superintendent position next Monday and have a number of applications for the position.

“The board has been directed to rank the applicants in order of most desirable to interview for the position,” said school attorney Tracy Kelley. “The top three applicants will be interviewed. If no suitable candidate is found, then the board will go through the remaining applicants.”

The board may also start the search for a permanent superintendent during next Monday’s special meeting.

During the regular board meeting, Custer Elementary School principal Heather Hiltunen requested that the board hire an additional paraprofessional to be split between both sixth grade classrooms, just for this school year. The enrollment for the sixth grade is 59 students, which is just over the optimal class size, according to the strategic plan.

According to Hiltunen, the two classes have other factors critical to the need of additional classroom support. Forty-four of the 59 students have been absent so far this school year, totaling 198.5 days, ranging from one to 17 days of absenteeism per student. Also, 153 assignments have been late and/or missing in the second quarter.

“This makes it very difficult to keep and to get students caught up with the Common Core Standard skills,” Hiltunen said.

According to Hiltunen, law enforcement was called on two occasions for two students disrupting school. The office deals with approximately five to 10 student discipline issues per day due to bullying, profanity, inappropriate gestures and compliance issues. Six students have spent a total of 17.5 days in either in- school suspension or out-of-school suspension. 

“How is that going to get better if we have another person in the classroom?” board member Brian Lintz asked. “We’re throwing money at an empty solution if they can’t catch up.”

Hiltunen said there has been talk about starting a “Friday Morning Breakfast Club” — just as the high school has — in order to catch students up. The elementary school has also established a “Ketchup Klub,” which helps students in fourth through sixth grades catch up on their work every afternoon. So far, seven sixth graders have taken advantage of the club, with more joining last week.

“Sometimes classes at 30 might not need that extra person, but these kids need that support,” she said. 

“If we don’t address this issue now, my concern is what is going to happen when they get to seventh grade and beyond,” said board president Tom Martin. “It really needed to be addressed earlier on.”

It was estimated it would cost around $7,000. The board voted to hire the paraprofessional.

The Hermosa Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) treasurer Kristy Lintz asked the board to consider helping purchase two new signs at the Hermosa school, one east bound and the second west bound.

“We began working with Jeremy (Hurd, Hermosa School principal) and fundraised a certain amount, hoping the school would help match what we raised,” she said.

The Hermosa PTA obtained quotes for the sign, installation and electric, totaling $20,770. The Hermosa PTA has saved $10,000 for the project, which would pay for one sign. The PTA also pulled a permanent sign permit from the town of Hermosa on Aug. 13, which the organization also paid for. Signs must be installed within a year from that date, otherwise the process would have to be re-issued.

“We’re sitting here with some expiring quotes and a time issue,” Kristy Lintz said. 

The board unanimously voted in favor of using money from the sale of the old administration building for the Hermosa PTA.

Also during the meeting:

• The board approved a $70,000 expenditure that will be refunded by a Homeland Security grant to purchase a generator and re-wire the schools. According to Joe Uhrich, head of buildings and grounds, purchasing a generator has always been in the district’s five-year plan. Eventually, Uhrich would like to purchase generators for the remaining two schools, but for now, they can be shared among the three buildings and used wherever they are needed the most. The board voted to spend the $70,000 for the generator and wait for more complete figures before voting for the re-wiring of the buildings.

• The board assigned Hurd to lead development of the district’s new employee evaluation system, which he helped develop at the state level. The assignment will transfer to the superintendent once the board hires that position. Until then, Hurd will give the board a month-to-month update.

• The board approved the second reading of section “G” and “H” and authorized the implementation of section “H” in the school’s policy manual. The board also approved the first reading of sections “I” and “J” in the policy manual, but agreed to host a discussion with teachers and administrators adding their input before the final voting.

The next Custer School District Board of Education meeting will be Jan. 13 at the Hermosa school.



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