School board debates gift to local swim groupA donation in the form of a lease payment became a brief subject of controversy at Monday’s Mitchell school board meeting. Board members voted 4-0 — board member Eric Christensen was ill and not present — Monday to approve a one-time lease payment of $17,800 for the use of a new above-ground pool being developed by the Mitchell Aquatic Club.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
A donation in the form of a lease payment became a brief subject of controversy at Monday’s Mitchell school board meeting.
Board members voted 4-0 — board member Eric Christensen was ill and not present — Monday to approve a one-time lease payment of $17,800 for the use of a new above-ground pool being developed by the Mitchell Aquatic Club.
MAC president Allan Miller said his club still hopes to have the practice facility completed this fall. He later told The Daily Republic that construction costs for the temporary facility will range from $120,000 to $140,000. Building lease and maintenance costs will be additional. The MAC recently received $30,000 from the City Council for the project.
Mitchell resident Ed Potzler asked, “How can taxpayer dollars be used for this purpose?” He questioned whether public money should be used to fund a private organization such as MAC.
In further discussion, board member Brenda Freidel said she did not want any money disbursed until the pool was built and it met all safety codes. Others agreed and the board passed the measure.
The issue arose once more during the meeting’s public commentary segment. Potzler asked Superintendent Joe Graves how many hours the district anticipated using the facility.
“I would anticipate using the pool zero hours,” said Graves. “(The $17,800) is essentially a gift. We may use the pool if we have a need, but right now we have no plans to use it.”
The Mitchell School District recently closed the pool at the middle school, displacing the MAC, which used the facility for practice and meets. Board President Dana Price said the closure of the middle school pool means the school district is “out of the pool business,” and the $17,800 is an attempt to soften the financial blow on a “good MAC program.” He said the district will still save more than $68,000 this year by closing the middle school pool.
But Potzler said he was still offended.
“It’s not up to the board to spend $17,800 on a lease it’s not going to use,” he said.
Graves said he did not believe the donation would set a precedent that would lead to other groups requesting money from the district. He said the school board would simply say no.
The board also heard from Ronette Guymon, who questioned why Graves had the use of a district car.
“It’s not in his contract,” she said.
Price said district vehicles are used for multiple purposes. Guymon also asked the board to update the board meeting minutes posted on the district Web site.
After the business portion of the meeting, Longfellow Elementary Principal Joe Childs guided the board on a tour of the new Longfellow Elementary School construction site.
In other business, the board:
• Approved home schooling applications for seven children.
• Approved three openenrollment applications for children entering the Mitchell School District.
• Gave final approval to MTI’s recommendation to purchase a lightly used Vermeer High Plains trencher and backhoe at a $50,000 bid price.
• Approved about $54,000 in pay increases for teachers who have upgraded their teaching credentials by taking extra classes.
Teachers hired prior to July 1, 2005, who shift from one pay lane to another have more pay lanes available than teachers hired after that date. They receive a 4 percent pay increase for each lane change, plus any negotiated pay raise for the academic year.
Teachers hired after July 1. 2005, receive $2,000 per lane change, plus applicable raises. Teachers in the following list with asterisks after their names were hired after July 1, 2005:
BA plus 15 credits to MA: Teresa Berndt*, Darci Dailey*, Jennifer Mayer, Christina Siemsen; BA plus 24 credits to MA: Darrell Anderson, Amanda Chada, Clayton Gropper, Mary Johnson, Susan Krcil, Nancy Noess, Dodie Schlueter, Marica Shannon; MA to MA plus 15 credits: Deb Everson; Karen Harrington, Karmin McGinnis*, Lee White; MA plus 15 to MA plus 30 credits: Tom Berg, Janelle Hearnen, Hallie Tate; MA plus 30 to MA plus 45 credits: Marilyn Bernard, Mark Budahl, Ron Grimsley, Teri Morgan; MA plus 45 to MA plus 60 credits: Joanna Meyers, Mel Olson.
• The board also approved the following:
New hires: Sheryl Plagmann, alumni and donor relations, MTI, $12 an hour, effective Sept. 14, 2009; David Utz III, admissions representative, MTI, $32,000 a year, prorated to $25,290, effective for 2009-10 school year; John Heemstra, James Valley outreach coordinator, $6,000; and the following MTI adjunct faculty for Student Success transition classes: Janet Greenway, $960; Marla Smith $960; Julie Hart Schutte, $960 (and $1,440 for sociology); and Carol Grode Hanks, $960.
• Graves briefly reviewed a list of goals for the upcoming school year. He said after the meeting that he will likely give an update on the stadium at Joe Quintal Field at the next board meeting.