Mitchell Board of Education discusses teacher supply, professional development funding boost

Funding increase to be reviewed in upcoming months with district administrators

Joe Childs, incoming superintendent for the Mitchell School District, right, speaks during the Mitchell Board of Education meeting Monday night, May 22. Also pictured are Mitchell Board of Education members Shawn Ruml and Matt Christiansen.
Erik Kaufman / Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — The Mitchell Board of Education discussed a potential boost in funding for teacher supplies and professional development Monday night during its review of the 2023-24 Mitchell School District budget, in the end selecting to review such funding over the upcoming months with members of the district administration.

Board member Terry Aslesen raised the issue during discussion on the general fund portion of the budget and proposed increasing the budget lines for both teacher supplies and their professional development.

Aslesen recommended increasing supply funding for elementary schools at a rate of $100 per teacher, and an overall 10% increase at Mitchell Middle School and Mitchell High School.

The 2023-24 proposed district budget recommends classroom supply budgets of $29,000 for L.B. Williams Elementary, $26,000 for Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, $21,000 for Longfellow Elementary, $43,000 for Mitchell Middle School and $71,000 for Mitchell High School. Aslesen’s proposal would up those to $31,400 for L.B. WIlliams, $28,000 for Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, $23,000 for Longfellow Elementary, $47,300 for Mitchell Middle School and $78,100 for Mitchell High School.

That would be a total budget increase of $17,800 for supplies across the district.


On the professional development side, Aslesen recommended a 20% increase at each school to keep up with the cost of inflation for travel along with a small boost for professional development, an increase of $3,400 total for all schools.

Aslesen hoped to take some of the burden off teachers who spend their own money on classroom supplies as well as to give teachers more of a chance to utilize professional development opportunities, something he said has become underfunded over the years.

“It’s a drop in the bucket compared to what we used to do for staff development. This is far from correcting that, but it shows staff development is important to us,” Aslesen said. “I would hope we’d do a little more staff development than what we’ve done historically, because we’ve seen such a drastic drop. It’s one of the first areas that always gets hit. This comes nowhere close to restoring the level of commitment we had for development, but if we value staff, we should value staff development.”

Aslesen proposed funding those increases through a budget reduction on certain technology supplies.

It was pointed out that those previous classroom supply budgets had not been fully spent, though Aslesen said teachers likely don’t ask for more funding if they know the funds are tapped out. He reasoned there were plenty of teachers who could find a use for greater funding.

“It would be a huge mistake to not do the slight bump of $3,400 that I’ve shown for staff development, and $17,000 for supplies,” Aslesen said. “When they know their allotment is gone, they’re not ordering.”

Deb Olson, president of the board of education, said she would like to further review such increases with administrators from district schools. That could help reveal more solid numbers and could give guidance on how to budget in the future.

Matt Christiansen, a member of the board, said he saw both sides of the discussion.


“I agree with both. Why would we increase funding for money that isn’t spent? But at the same time, it’s important that faculty knows we support them in their endeavors,” Christiansen said.

Joe Childs, incoming superintendent for the Mitchell School District, said he also saw the viewpoint both ways.

“I do think we (should) look at the adjustments and monitor it throughout the year. (It will give) me a chance to involve the principals at the buildings in this decision and allow full transparency with teachers in what is available and how it can be spent,” Childs said.

The board took no official action on the discussion. The district budget is historically approved by the board in June.

Salary considerations

Following an approximately one hour executive session, the board approved a set wages and salaries for various employees of the district.

School nurses Ashley Hektner, Marlett Snoozy and Brenda Axemaker each received a $2.25 per hour raise, bringing their compensation to $24.75, $25 and $25.20 per hour for each, respectively.

Other salaries approved included Bobbie Schelske, administrative assistant/superintendent and computer network specialist, $49,210; Kris Whitledge, payroll manager/benefit specialist, $70,200; Bill Parks, director for the Performing Arts Center, $27,000; Smanatha Hieb, behavioral specialist, $58,783; Ryan Pryor, prevention specialist, $44,075; Kim Hargens, speech language therapist assistant, $42,000; Kim Max, dean of students, $60,173 and Carl Niehoff, assistant director of buildings and grounds, $64,599.

Several administrative salaries, such a district business manager and the district elementary principals, will be finalized at an upcoming meeting.


Mitchell Board of Education members Terry Aslesen, center and Brittni Flood, right, take in information during the Monday, May 22 meeting of the board. Also pictured is Steve Culhane, left, business manager for the district.
Erik Kaufman / Mitchell Republic


The board approved the following personnel moves at the meeting:

  • The new certified hires of Jeff Sand, ELA teacher at Mitchell High School, $57,243; Jeremy Hurd, assistant principal at Mitchell Middle School, $75,000 and Lisa Hurd, 8th grade ELA teacher at Mitchell Middle School, $53,058. The hires are effective for the 2023-24 school year.
  • The classified hires of Katie Cornell, paraeducator at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary, $17, effective Aug. 9; Elisha Tiede, accounts receivable, $21.50 per hour, 8 hours daily, effective May 30 and Donna Long, general food service worker at Mitchell Middle School, $16 per hour, 4.5 hours daily, effective May 30.
  • The transfer of Lee Gair, custodial at L.B. Williams Elementary to custodial/maintenance, effective May 22.
  • The resignations of Halley Robbins, paraeducator at L.B. Williams Elementary, effective May 26; Grisly Esciba, food service, effective May 12 and Christina Siemsen, track coach, effective end of the 2022-23 school year pending suitable replacement.
  • The new Mitchell Technical College hires of Bethany Florey, admissions representative, $4,896, effective May 30; Erica Ingerson, student welding and manufacturing technologies intern, $15 per hour, effective May 8; Keah Munsen, farm ranch management instructor, $10,640, effective May 22 and Isabelle Riggs, admissions representative, $5,916, effective May 22.

Other business

Also at the meeting, the board:

  • Approved of South Dakota High School Activities Association amendments.
  • Approved of South Dakota High School Activities Association board of directors.
  • Approved of the comprehensive special plan for the Mitchell School District for the 2023-24 school year.
  • Declared surplus property.
  • Heard board member reports.
  • Heard public commentary.
  • Heard the superintendent report.

The next meeting of the board is scheduled for Monday, June 12 at 5:30 p.m. in Room 110 at the Mitchell Career & Technical Education Academy.

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at
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