NEW ULM - The District 88 Board of Education will hold its annual organizational meeting and a study session Thursday.
During the organizational meeting, newly-elected board members Sharon Gieseke, Jill Hulke and Matt Ringhofer took the oath of office.
The board also elected officers for this year. Duane Winter was re-elected chair, Patricia Hoffman was elected vice-chair, Steve Gag was elected clerk and Don Deslauriers was elected treasurer.
Board members were also assigned to various committees.
Compensation for board members remained unchanged from $1,200 annually, plus $35 per committee meeting and $70 for a full-day training session.
A mileage rate was approved to conform to the IRS guideline for the year.
The board hired two literacy coaches, Cynthia Jakel at Jefferson Elementary School and Barbara Jensen at Washington Elementary School, for the balance of the school year.
The teachers were hired to help improve literacy skills, with state literacy aid approved late during the last legislative session. The coaches will circulate among classrooms.
The board approved a revised contract with Brown County for providing nursing services to non-public schools.
The $53,022 contract is for services to area Catholic and Lutheran schools as well as pre-school screening for District 88.
The contract is being amended to reflect actual, versus projected, enrollments.
Study session: graduation requirements
During the study session which followed the organizational meeting, administrators and a guidance counselor familiarized the board with Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards, required state testing and state graduation requirements, especially in light of the fact three new members joined the board. The presenters explained state and locally-required credits for graduation and current system and student-accountability tests.
The board also discussed the administrative recruitment process. Two key administrators may need to be replaced next year: retiring Superintendent Harold Remme and interim Washington School Principal Les Koppendrayer.
Remme informed the board that there is a possibility for Koppendrayer to remain as an interim principal for another year, but that is not yet certain.
On the superintendent issue, Remme recommended that the board recruit an external consultant to handle the search and recruitment.
Four entities have submitted proposals upon request to render this service, and Remme recommended that the board goes with the South Central Service Co-op, which will provide the service free of charge (apart from expenses like printing or advertising) because the district is a member of the co-op. The other proposals came from for-profit businesses, he explained.
The board will meet with the consultants Jan. 15 to discuss details in the process, with the goal of approving a contract possibly in late March or early April.
Remme also shared ideas about the potential allocation of the funds generated by a local levy of $575 per pupil per year approved by voters last November.
Remme suggested possible priorities for use of the new funds, especially stressing the recovery of deficit spending and the reduction of class section sizes.