Board accepts $50,000 donationAfter a tough year of budget cuts, Mitchell Technical Institute received some good news Monday in the form of a $50,000 donation to the school’s agricultural technology department.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
After a tough year of budget cuts, Mitchell Technical Institute received some good news Monday in the form of a $50,000 donation to the school’s agricultural technology department.
Department Chairman Myron Sonne said the money is a gift from Glen Lowrie, president of F&L Crop Services, a local crop insurance company. He is also a member of the department’s advisory board. Fellow board member Dean Frederickson presented Lowrie with an award certifying him as a member of the department’s “Buckle Club” for his contributions to students and the ag program.
Lowrie said his donation makes good sense.
“My business is crop insurance and because I work with ag producers we wanted to make sure we have a good number of ag producers coming out,” he said. “Also, seeing the things they have done and will do, we wanted to give something back to the community.”
Lowrie, who has volunteered as a guest instructor, said he enjoys the farm program’s hands-on teaching methods.
“I just wanted to help them do a little more,” he said.
Sonne said that $20,000 will be used for scholarships, with $1,500 given annually to fourth-semester students who plan to return to production agriculture; $10,000 will be used as seed money for the purchase of a new tractor; and $5,000 will go to the renovation of a fifth-wheel trailer that eventually will be fitted with $60,000 of agronomy testing equipment. Some funds will also be used for marketing the program with advertising decals mounted on trucks.
Lowrie has challenged fellow advisory board members and said he will match up to $1,000 that each member donates to the program.
Also during its Monday evening meeting, the school board approved the recommendation of Mitchell Middle School Assistant Principal Joe Childs as new principal at Longfellow Elementary School, starting with the 2009-2010 school year, at a pay rate of $61,000 a year. Childs will replace outgoing Principal Mary Wilson, who has retired.
In other business, Superintendent Joe Graves said the district has applied for a portion of the $29 million in stimulus funds given to the state for the construction of new schools.
“We’ll know by June 5 if we’ll receive any money,” he said. If the district does get construction money it will reduce its anticipated $7 million share of bonded indebtedness for the construction of a new Longfellow Elementary.
During a quick perusal of the 2009-2010 district budget, Graves said that no opt-out money should be necessary for the coming year, but some opt-out dollars will likely be needed in 2010-2011.
Business Manager Steve Culhane said the district will hold the line on school lunch prices for the coming school year. The food program also has applied for a $15,000 grant for food service equipment for the new Longfellow Elementary school.
The food service program will be moving to the new MTI Technology Center, where it will develop a food court for the coming school year that will hopefully generate $80,000 in revenue.
Culhane also noted that the district’s pension fund budgeted $145,000 in salaries and $16,000 in benefits. Only one employee has elected to take early retirement so far this year.
In the last two weeks, the district was notified it will receive $661,000 in IDEA funds and $31,784 for preschool money. The money will allow the district to hire four full-time employees for the program. The state will allow half of the larger amount to be put to other educational uses, said Graves
About $330,500 will be used for materials for the district’s updated reading and language arts program, Graves said.
• In a lengthy report, board member Brenda Freidel told fellow board members that a poll of district students shows that cigarette use is down among middle school students but there appears to be an upswing in the number of kids experimenting with alcohol.
The report, she said, will be used as supporting information when a new Mitchell chapter of Big Brothers and Big Sisters applies for federal or state grant money.
• The board learned that six agriculture technology students at MTI received $1,000 scholarships from CHS Inc., an energy, grains and food company. They are Bryce Eggers, Wagner; Tyler Focken, Sioux Falls; Michelle Kats, Hudson; John Kayser, Alexandria; Dustin Reinesch, White Lake; and Thomas Smith of Kimball
• The board recognized Mitchell High School student award winners from FFA, FBLA and FCCLA.
• FFA sponsor Jeff Hoffman said two teams took first-place honors at the April state FFA competition in Brookings.
First place winners in the nursery and landscape division were Tasha Paulson, Collin Gronseth, Cole Johnson and Courtney Nolz.
First in livestock evaluation went to Kelsey Repenning, Weston Geppert, Austin Havlik and Samantha Hanten.
They head to Indianapolis in October to compete nationally.
• FBLA sponsor Annika Russell said Cassie Vaughn took first in the electronic career portfolio event at the state FBLA Conference in Aberdeen April 4-6 and will advance to the national competition in June at Anaheim, Calif.
Ashley Thielen placed third and Molly Grove fifth in the marketing competition.
• FCCLA sponsor Suzanne Skinner said she will be taking seven students, who composed four teams, to the national FCCLA meeting in Nashville in mid-July. “Taking four teams in the same year never even made my dream list,” said Skinner. Those students are Terese Skinner, Hailee Wharton, Abby Yahne, Jean Van Driel, Preston Skinner (seventh grade), Taylor Pahl and Whitney Pahl. Senior Kayla Hohback, who is starting classes at the Institute of Art in Minneapolis, will be unable to attend the Nashville meeting.
• The board gave permission to MTI President Greg Von Wald to appear before the Mitchell City Council Monday to pursue a $224,000 special assessment bond agreement with the city for infrastructure improvements for water, sewer and a lift station to serve the expanded south campus technology center.
• The board approved two open enrollment applications for the upcoming school year and approved MTI recommendations for wind turbine training equipment.
The board also officially listed old MTI electronic satellite equipment as surplus so it may be sold and increased work-study wages to $7.50 an hour, effective June 1, to comply with new minimum wage laws which go into effect July 24.
The following personnel items were approved: Resignations (extracurricular): Abby Bockorny, assistant director, marching band; Transfers: Kelly Bottom, from second-grade instructor to .8 (full-time equivalent) reading coach; Debra Dice, from reading coach to full-time Title I instructor— all effective for the 2009-2010 school year.