District 88 sets new prices for activity passes

/ 25 May 2012 / jennifer

Kremena Spengler, New Ulm Journal, May 25, 2012 –

NEW ULM – The District 88 Board of Education Thursday approved new prices for activity passes.

Family passes went up from $200 to $250. They are good for four immediate family members, and additional cards will be $20 a card.

Student yearly passes will remain $50.

Senior citizen passes will increase from $30 to $50.

Adult 10-punch passes were discontinued in light of light use.

A new $10 charge was instituted for replacement passes.

Board member Susan Nierengarten observed that when selling passes, the district should ensure that people know what is covered, to prevent disappointment.

Most activities would be covered, but some are not, said officials.

For example, passes can be used to see plays but not musicals (which are generally more expensive, $10,000-$12,000, productions).

Mediation

Nierengarten reported that the district and the teachers’ union made progress during a mediation session dedicated to working out contract issues May 17.

The teachers and other unionized employees have not signed a contract for this school year and 2012-13.

The district and the teachers’ union agreed on all non-financial matters, specified Nierengarten.

Because this discussion took up the entire day, financial matters were not even addressed.

The next session is set for July 18 due to a tight schedule of the mediator.

Talks with other employee groups are still on hold, she added.

Staff development

The board approved $45,000 for staff development next year.

High School Principal Steve Weber explained that the funding request approved includes $12,000 for Jefferson School, $10,000 for Washington School, no dollars for the High School, and $23,000 for districtwide initiatives, curriculum writing and mini-grants.

The site-specific requests were based on two factors: average spending over the past three years, and balances in specific staff development budgets. The balances are left over from a time when the Legislature mandated set-asides for this purpose; it no longer does.

Jefferson’s three-year spending average is about $15,000; Washington’s $10,000; and the High School’s $17,500.

On the balance side, the High School has a balance of $28,000, and the districtwide fund a balance of $12,000.

A significant portion of staff development funds is spent on professional travel, bringing in speakers, and paying substitutes when teachers travel to conferences, said Weber.

New meeting format

The board discussed but did not yet adopt a new structure for board meetings, citing a need to further consider the concept.

Superintendent Harold Remme is proposing that next year’s school board meeting calendar include study sessions involving staff and members of the public.

He is proposing that the first of two scheduled monthly board meetings become a study session, and that the second meeting be dedicated to action items.

If that’s too many study sessions, the board could designate about a quarter of all board meetings (about five in all) as study sessions, said Remme.

He urged board members and the public to consider the idea, and also to suggest possible topics for discussion, such as an alternate school-year calendar and budget details.

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