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Verndale school board hires four new teachers

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A plethora of new business dominated the Verndale school board's agenda Monday night as they held their first post-school year meeting at the school's media center.

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Monday's meeting saw the board handle 21 items of new business, including the hiring of four new teachers and the transfer of one teacher.

The board's workload mirrored the many signs of change in the Wadena County school, which launched a $5.795 million construction project last October. With the completion of the 2013-2014 school year and a massive cleanup and moving effort May 30, contractors moved into the main building for remodeling work.

"We had kids that worked like you would not believe," Superintendent Paul Brownlow said, who told the board he wants to hire some of the same kids in August to move property back into remodeled class rooms. "We shredded 4,000 pounds of paper and what we recycled was unbelievable."

The remodeling is expected to be completed by Aug. 11. The first day of school for students is set for Sept. 2.

Justin Edin will be coming aboard as an elementary special education teacher, Vanessa Waldahl will be teaching fourth grade, Jamie Adams has been approved as a first grade teacher and Amanda Culver has been hired as a vocal music teacher. Heather Arroyo will move from the first grade classroom to a kindergarten through second grade interventionist position.

The board approved a request by Instructor Chris Holman, who asked for one additional year in his probationary period with the school district.

Changes in staffing and student enrollment prompted Brownlow to recommend the layoff of three educational assistants. Based on the seniority list, the order of layoff the assistants will be Renee Jacobson, Daniel Moske and Jessica Grossinger.

The board approved the hiring of Mark Callahan and Teresa Moenkedick as seasonal custodial staff.

Dan Schmitz was hired as a full-time bus driver and the board approved the resignation of long-time bus driver Robert Anderson.

The board approved a preliminary budget which is projected to operate with general fund revenues of $5,104,063 against expenditures of $4,765,619 in fiscal year 2015. The $338,444 surplus does not include projected settlements and wages, which are set at fiscal year 2013 contract amounts, nor does it address the costs which the school is obligated to under the Affordable Care Act.

A revised school calendar was approved. The calendar will reduce two-hour late starts from 13 to eight.

While the majority of the district's breakfast, lunch and milk prices will remain the same, a nickel increase in elementary lunches was approved. The elementary lunch fee will now be $1.75.

Board action insured that activity admission prices will remain the same. The last bump in admission prices was seen in fiscal year 2013.

The board approved authority for Brownlow to deal with the Health Insurance consulting contract.

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