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2014-15 budget, new teacher evaluation system approved

The Pequot Lakes School Board made several decisions Monday, June 16, that will affect the next school year. Members approved the finalized 2014-15 budget, a system for evaluating teachers and administration in accordance with state law and modifications to the athletics agreement with Crosslake Community School (CCS).

Superintendent Chris Lindholm said he decided to purchase one additional bus than originally budgeted for in the preliminary version shared with the board at its work session, for a total of three new buses.

Funds for the the third bus will come from the capital budget fund, which is dedicated money. Because of the use of this fund, the new bus purchase will not affect the unreserved fund balance. The other two buses are budgeted for in the transportation line of the general fund.

New projections for the fund balance for the end of fiscal year (FY) 2015 edged up again and now stand at $2.47 million, or 17.3 percent of the annual budget. This directly corresponds to a decrease in the deficit from the general funds from $878,671 earlier this month to $861,246 in the approved budget. The overall deficit between expenditures and revenues at the end of FY 2015 accounting for all funds is $914,065.

Because the school board must approve a budget before funding from the state is finalized, many of these numbers may need adjustment.

Teachers will be evaluated through a new system beginning next school year. The state Legislature passed a law in 2011 requiring regular evaluation of all teachers, not only those in their probationary period as with the previous law.

Several school districts piloted an evaluation plan developed by the state this past school year, and all districts are required to have a plan in place for this upcoming year. If district leaders do not develop their own plans that meet state requirements, they will be required to implement the state's plan.

The plan approved by the school board uses methods of evaluation developed by Robert Marzano, a "leading researcher in education," according to his research laboratory's website.

Marzano's model includes evaluation framework for not only teachers, but also for principals and the superintendent.

Lindholm said this method recognizes the impact that principals have on teachers and that superintendents have on principals, all of which impacts student learning. He added it will help both teachers and administrators operate "on the same common language, same frameworks."

The board also approved changes to the athletic participation agreement with CCS, which will allow Crosslake students to participate in activities for the same fee as Pequot Lakes students.

Previously, the agreement called for Crosslake participants to pay a fee based upon the total cost of the program divided by the number of participating students. This configuration typically led to higher fees for those students, and according to athletics director Marc Helmrichs, discouraged Crosslake participation.

Lindholm said it was a matter of looking at how the two schools could work "collaboratively, rather than feeling like we are (working) adversarially."

The school board closed its meeting to plan for contract negotiations with Education Minnesota Pequot Lakes.

In other business, the board:

• Heard a technology report from Ty Goeman, account manager for Consolidated Telecommunications Company. Goeman shared challenges and victories experienced throughout the school year with the new construction and the addition of more than 400 Chromebooks. He also shared projects planned for next school year, including segmenting the wireless network, cleaning up the active directory and implementing a new school website, among several other projects.

• Approved a milk bid from Aitkin Dairy and a bread bid from Pan-O-Gold in Baxter for 2014-15.

• Set meal prices for 2014-15, in accordance with a federal mandate to increase lunch prices by at least 10 cents. Student breakfast will be $1.55, lunch will be $2.25 for students in kindergarten through fourth grade and $2.50 for fifth- through 12th-graders.

• Adopted the strategic roadmap and school district mission statement.

• Approved the FY 2014-16 health and safety budget, which is required to qualify for and receive health and safety revenue.

• Approved a contract proposal from IEA, Inc. for environmental, health and safety management services for 2014-17.

• Renewed insurance for property, liability and workers' compensation through SMA Insurance.

• Approved a purchase of service agreement with the National Joint Powers Alliance for the family services program.

• Recognized a staff lane change for special education teacher Piper Bader-Lampi, from BA+15 to BA+30.

• Accepted staff resignations for the following employees: high school guidance counselor Anna Braam for the end of her 2013-14 contract; head speech coach Heather Pearson, effective immediately; and bus driver Gary Welsh, effective May 30. The board also accepted the non-renewal of middle level football coach Gary Wolf, effective immediately.

• Approved the hiring of four new staff members: Jeffrey Brever, high school mathematics instructor; Grace Balfanz, middle level mathematics instructor; Alissa Anderson, long-term substitute in early childhood special education, for Amanda Kostreba's leave; and Heather Tweed, health office LPN.

• Approved a resolution relating to the election of school board members and calling the school district general election for this November.

Chelsey Perkins can be reached at Follow her at and on Twitter @PEJ_Chelsey.

Chelsey Perkins

Chelsey Perkins grew up in Crosslake and is a graduate of Pequot Lakes High School. She earned her Bachelor's degree in professional journalism from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. Perkins has interned at the Lake Country Echo and the Rochester and Austin Post-Bulletins and also worked for the student-run Minnesota Daily newspaper as a copy editor and columnist during college. She went on to intern at Utne Reader magazine, where she was later hired as the research editor. Before joining the Brainerd Dispatch, Perkins worked as a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal.

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