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Price fires back at Hall, Volesky

Board member Dana Price took time from Monday's school board meeting at the Mitchell Career and Technical Education Academy to fire a return volley at school board candidates Rod Hall and Tara Volesky.

Volesky and Hall are running for two school board seats that will become available when Brenda Freidel and Eric Christensen, who are not seeking re-election, finish out their current terms. The election is June 4.

The Hall-Volesky team appeared at the April 15 board meeting, Price said, and charged the board with failing to notify school district residents about plans for a new high school.

Price said some research on his part determined that the charges of Hall and Volesky are inaccurate, but the pair did not show at the April 29 meeting to hear his response. Price also noted neither was at Monday's meeting, though candidate Rick Johnson and Deb Olson were.

In a letter published on Saturday's Daily Republic Opinion page, Hall hammered the newspaper and school board for allegedly failing to publicize plans for a proposed $13 million fine arts center at the high school as well as future plans to build a new high school.

Price, holding up a copy of The Daily Republic, said high school plans were given headline coverage in the Nov. 13, 2012, issue as well as in Superintendent Joe Graves' weekly column and the minutes of the Nov. 12, 2012, board meeting.

"It made me mad that (the issue) could be so distorted and misrepresented. It's really easy to just throw mud and see if some of it sticks," he said.

Price said after the meeting that all building projects are currently in the discussion stages and more information will be made available as planning develops. The fine arts project has a tentative 2016 completion date and a new high school a possible date of 2025.

All those things will be decided by a board that isn't seated now, Price said.

"Realistically," said Price, "they're punishing us for forward thinking and planning rather than running a school by knee-jerk reactions."


Business Manager Steve Culhane introduced the 2013-2014 school district budget. Next year's general fund, which covers daily operating costs, will be $14.893 million, or 2.8 percent higher than the 2012-13 general fund budget of $14.488 million.

The budget, which is based on an anticipated enrollment of 2,610 students -- 20 more than 2012 -- includes pay for 5.5 new teachers, most associated with the new Mass Customized Learning program that will be piloted at the middle school.

The budget includes $1,250 across-the-board raises for certified teaching staff. There will also be a salary increase for non-teaching staff, Culhane said, but negotiations are still pending with the Mitchell Classified Education Association.

The budget also includes $1.3 million for updates to student and staff computers at all schools. The computers will be part of a three-year lease program that will cost the district about $375,000 a year, Culhane said.


The board took time out to acknowledge the achievements of Mitchell High School students.

Dave Reuland, automotive tech instructor, said the MHS automotive program has received national accreditation from the national Automotive Technicians Foundation and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

Reuland said students Andrew Hoffman and Robert Christensen took first place in a recent Ford AAA competition.

In the Skills USA competition, Daniel Zard took first and Corey Carpentier took second in the automotive segment; Logan Christensen took first place in welding; and Nakkia Johnston took third in culinary competition.

FFA adviser Jeff Hoffman said students Micah DiPippo, Josh DiPippo, Brady Dice and Dylan Senska took first place in the agricultural sales competition at the FFA state competition in December at Pierre and will compete in the nationals to be held in Louisville, Ky., this October.

Annika Russell, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) adviser said several of her students qualified at the state level for the nationals, which will be held in Anaheim, Calif., at the end of June.

Miranda Goldammer took first in job interview; Noelle Yeo, first in electronic career portfolio; Jenna Neugebauer, Alyssa Honermann and Megan Roth, first in digital video production; and Mason Wenzel, second place in impromptu speaking.

Debate coach Ron Grimsley said this is the second consecutive year Wenzel, a junior, qualified for competition in the national speech and debate tournament. Wenzel took top scores in extemporaneous speaking in the state competition and will compete in that category at the national tournament this summer in Birmingham, Ala.


The board also:

-Heard from Wade Pogany, executive director of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, who presented board member Neil Putnam with a plaque of appreciation for his six years of service on the ASBSD board of directors.

-Approved a resolution to declare used equipment as surplus property so that it may be sold. Surplused equipment includes a well-used John Deere combine head.

-Approved the 2013-14 Mitchell Area Technical Educators agreement, giving each instructor at Mitchell Technical Institute a raise of $1,175.

-Approved minor changes to the 2013-14 Mitchell Middle School handbook that include recommendations against the use of personal electronic devices during school hours.

-Approved the transfer of a 10-foot-wide band of land to the city of Mitchell. The land will be used for the city's new ice arena project.

-Cast ballots for the state High School Activities Association issues, including voting for Dan Whelan, of T.F. Riggs High School, Pierre, as Division II representative; and Mike Miller, of Aberdeen, as the large schools group representative.

-Decided not to schedule a May 28 board meeting to make up for the May 27 board meeting that will be canceled because of the Memorial Day holiday.


Also, as part of a consent agenda, the board approved the following personnel items:

Resignations: Mandy Stevens, Carla Eppel, paraeducators, Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary; Michael Hoffman, vice president of finance, MTI; Sandy Walker, Child Development Center director; Callie Beck, part-time bookstore assistant, MTI -- all effective at the end of the school year.

Resignation: (extra-curricular) Joe Shepardson, assistant track coach, pending suitable replacement.

Transfers: Cindy Bierman, from Mitchell Middle School to Mitchell High School, special education; Melissa Vatter-Miller, from MHS special education to MHS language arts -- both effective for the 2013-2014 school year.

New hires (extra-curricular): Jason Wear, head boys' soccer coach, $2,856; Kayla Braffet, head girls' soccer coach, $2,500; Christina Siemsen, ninth grade girls' basketball, $2,426; Leslie Warnke, MHS declam, $1,214; Annika Russell and Melissa Temple, half-time FBLA advisers, $648 each; Amy Geisler and Ralyna Schilling, half-time MMS musical, $948 each; Melissa Vatter-Miller, color guard/marching band assistant, $1,616 -- all effective for the 2013-2014 school year.

Change in hours: Dustin Kubik, from part-time to full-time tech support technician, $4,387, effective May 13.

MTI summer help: Devan Nelson, $10.50 an hour.

New MTI hires: Gregg Thibodeau, manufacturing instructor, $13,923, effective May 13; Connie Fergen, medical assistant instructor, $10,210, effective June 1; Mary Pranger, CDC director/instructor, $18,753, effective Aug. 1; Bobbie Brink, SLPA instructor, paid through a Technical Education at a Distance (TED) grant, $10,447.50; Melissa Ettswold, curriculum coordinator, $2,419 (TED grant); Beth Schneider instructional strategist (TED grant), $2,661 -- all effective June 1; Tricia Oswald, online enrollment adviser (TED grant), $30,000, effective July 1.

New hires K-12: Denise Hoffman, half-time math instructor, for $20,263; Amanda Christensen, fourth grade, Longfellow Elementary, $35,500; Robin Johnson, seventh-grade math, $33,750; Christine Skoglund, MMS special education, $38,000; Erik Skoglund, MHS math, MA, $42,000, head boys' basketball coach, $6,743, assistant MHS track coach, $3,239; Nathan DeGeest, seventh-grade social studies/language arts, BA $37,000; Megan Pommer. three-quarter hire at LBW, $35,550; and Cassey VerHey, third grade, LBW, $34,250 -- all for the 2013-2014 school year.