Fillmore Central superintendent announces retirement at end of school year

By: 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

The Fillmore Central School Board braved the dark skies last Tuesday, Sept. 24, to hold the September regular board meeting.

Board Chair Ross Kiehne called the meeting to order and board members then reviewed a lengthy list of policies that reflect alignment with legislation enacted during the last legislative session. Fillmore Central Superintendent Richard Keith called for the board to approve the first readings of those policies. 

Keith also announced his resignation as superintendent – effective June 30, 2020, with members of the board, and Kiehne, expressing their gratitude for his leadership of the district.

Budget and levy

The 2020 preliminary budget and property tax levy showed itself as an important agenda item and, as usual, recommendations were made to certify the maximum allowable amount, with the levy this year being $1,453,179.43 for 2020.  The final budget will be set in December, with a truth in taxation hearing on the calendar during that month. 

Principal’s report

Principal Heath Olstad reported that homecoming week was Sept. 16 to Sept. 21 and that things went well.

The school has also hosted evacuation drills and bus tests with seventh through 10th graders. 

Enrollment in seventh grade stood at 61, eighth grade had 55 students, ninth grade had 41, 10th grade included 39, 11th grade had 49 and the senior class had 45, for a total of 290 students at the time he updated the board. 

At the elementary school, bus safety and evacuation drills were carried out on Sept. 17 and 18, the One & Done fundraiser was Sept. 12, sixth graders went to Forestville on Sept. 18, back to school conferences had been well-attended, and current enrollment stood at 327 students. 

The board granted its acceptance of several open enrollment requests for students from outside the Fillmore Central district to attend the school here. 

Olstad added there will be early dismissal at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 17 and no school on Oct. 18 for the Education Minnesota weekend.   

Staffing items

Personnel matters encompassed approving the resignation of school readiness aide Heather Stockdale effective Oct. 3.

The board approved hiring coaches Josh Jones as head baseball coach, John O’Connor as head softball coach, Aaron Mensink for girls’ golf, Brad Holton for boys’ golf, Jackie Whitacre for one-act play and head speech advisor, Vicki Musel for assistant dance coach, Andrew Pederson for strength and conditioning, Aaron Janssen for seventh grade boys’ basketball, Andy Todd for eighth grade boys’ basketball, Chad Musel for ninth grade boys’ basketball, Eric Breitsprecher for junior varsity girls’ basketball, Jason Schwarz for ninth grade girls’ basketball, Devan Iddings for seventh grade girls’ basketball, and Blaise Sass and Walker Ward for assistant wrestling coaches.  The district is still seeking an eighth grade girls’ basketball coach. 

The board also approved an additional 15 minutes per day on paraprofessional Shelly Sexton’s schedule to allow her to collect laptops in the media center from students who do not take them home – increasing her hours from 6.75 each day to a full 7 hours. 

Independent study assignments were accepted for Joni Mehus, Sarah Holten and Carrie Mathison to teach courses at $200 per credit. Additionally, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the teachers’ association to allow scheduling Mehus with no prep hour for one quarter and a double prep hour another quarter.  

Other business

In other business, the board approved teachers’ lane changes and reimbursements for those who have completed graduate work – the district has received nine requests for graduate credit reimbursement and nine for salary schedule lane changes.

The board signed a foster care transportation agreement with the Fillmore County social services department to provide transportation for students placed in foster care outside of the district.

The negotiated agreement with Education Minnesota-Fillmore Central was approved for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. 

Further items to handle included a resolution supporting the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) Foundation grant application – in exchange for paying sales tax to the state, the sales tax funds collected by the MSHSL are kept in the MSHSL Foundation and distributed to schools that submit an application,    

The next board meeting will be held on Oct. 22 at 7 a.m. in the elementary meeting room in Preston.