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Mitchell school board denies request for soccer co-op with Mount Vernon

To the disappointment of Phil Millar and his teammates, the Mitchell Board of Education on Monday unanimously denied a request from the Mount Vernon School District to allow a cooperative sports program with Mitchell district's new boys' soccer program.

The episode highlighted the growing competitive nature of South Dakota's open enrollment program.

"If you want schools to compete in open enrollment, then we're going to compete in open enrollment," said Superintendent Joe Graves after the Monday meeting at the Mitchell Technical Institute north campus. "This is the negative side of it."

Graves recommended denial because allowing the deal could be expensive and might potentially deny a spot on the team roster to a Mitchell student.

Millar moved from Mitchell to the Mount Vernon district because a parent teaches in the latter district, and he continued to play with the Mitchell soccer club. Teammates who attended the board meeting described Millar as a dedicated player and leader and they want him to stay with the squad.

The Mitchell Soccer Association donated $7,500 to underwrite the MHS soccer program, but club president Amy Novak said, in an oversight, the club failed to explain Millar's special situation. She asked the board to make an exception and to grandfather Millar in as part of the original deal.

School board president Brenda Freidel sympathized with Millar's plight. "It puts us in a situation where we have to make a difficult decision," she said.

Graves and Mitchell School District Activities Director Geoff Gross said any agreement between districts must allow the participation of all students.

"We couldn't exclude other students," Gross said.

Board member Eric Christensen reminded Millar that he always has the opportunity to open-enroll to Mitchell to be closer to his teammates.

Christensen also broached the idea of keeping the soccer program as an unsanctioned club sport until Millar graduates, but that was not attractive to the team. Unsanctioned teams are not eligible to play in the state tournament, said Novak.

"We would not be interested in having it not sanctioned," she said.

Welding program

The board also approved a budget supplement to fund a new welding and manufacturing program at the school.

Money for the new program will come from a $582,180 grant from the Governor's Office of Economic Development. It will be used to pay for equipment to operate the program and not for salaries.

A supplement is required because the program, which was strongly supported by Gov. Dennis Daugaard, was not part of MTI's original budget.

The board later approved the hire of MTI welding instructor Travis Petersen, whose job will become effective Feb. 29. Petersen will start organizing the new program, which will begin in the 2012 fall semester.

Grimsley recognized

The board also recognized Mitchell High School debate coach Ron Grimsley for earning distinction as a fourth dia- mond coach in the National Forensic League.

Grimsley, who used the platform to plug his program, said the award represents about 20,000 wins by his debate students.

He said the Mitchell program, which began in 1907, has an illustrious history. His classroom has 50 trophies and plaques that represent that history, he said. "I've been blessed to be here 16 years and watch things grow."

Grimsley thanked the board members for their support.

"It's a great activity," he said. "I've seen so many great things happen with my kids."

Public comment

Local blogger Steve Sibson told the board that the state needs to use the incentive money it plans to use for HB 1234 and instead use that cash to fix the state aid formula for school aid.

"I think we should fight the fight," he said.

The bill, which creates incentives for math and science teachers and gives money to the top 20 percent of teachers in a district, will only add to an already top-heavy educational bureaucracy, Sibson said.

The state has the money this year, claimed Sibson, "to restore the operating budget and state aid to where it was, and that should be the starting point for this year's budget." He presented figures to back up his claims.

The board also:

• Approved the K-12 calendar for the 2012-2013 school year.

• Approved a bid for a new roof for the Mitchell Career and Technical Education building at the MTI north campus for $193,887 from Dalsin Roofing.

Rejected bids were: $212,267 from Guarantee Roofing; $249,830 from Pro-Tec; $240,295 from Architectural Roofing; and $284,020 from BHI.

• Approved four open enrollment applications and seven applications for home schooling.

• Complimented LBW secondgrade teacher Cheryle Aslesen for coverage of her students' restaurant project coverage on KELOTV; and Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic's sports editor, for his feature on MHS basketball coach Gary Munsen.

Freidel reminded those at the meeting that Munsen's final regular-season home game will be at 7:30 p.m. today against Watertown.

• Approved the following personnel items: New hires: David Boos, MTI, for additional academic duties, $1,734; DeAnna Hatch, grant administrator/writer, MTI, part-time, $13,000 a year, effective Jan. 23; Jamie Hohn and Cassie Olinger, custodians, Gertie Belle Rogers elementary, four hours daily at $10 an hour, effective Jan. 16; Steve Starr, adjunct instructor, MTI, $2,700.

Change in hours: Gayle Norwick, food service, L.B. Williams Elementary, from six to five hours daily, effective Jan 18.

Resignations: Linda Geidel, food service, Mitchell Christian, effective Feb. 20; Keara Hohn, CDC instructor, Feb. 10; Amy Hotz, CDC instructor, effective March 2; Duane Stahl, powerline instructor, MTI, effective Feb. 17; Tina Thomas, paraeducator, Longfellow, Feb. 16.

Transfer: Joyce Starr, food service, LBW, from four hours to a 5.5-hour position at LBW, effective Jan 18.