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Colfax school board finalizes 2014-15 staff, agrees to buy property

by Marlys Kruger

Although school has been in progress for over two weeks, the Colfax school board still had a few staff positions that needed approval during the September 15 meeting held in the board office.

Melissa Nehm was approved as the new elementary music teacher, and several teacher aides were approved including Denise Buchholz, Brad Hostak and Jenni Mohr while Beth Kley moved from a part time aide position to full time. New special education teacher Kristina Anderson was approved as the middle school volleyball coach and Matthew DeMoe moved from a teacher aide position to a full time physical education instructor. DeMoe will teach both elementary and high school physical education while Joe Doucette, who has been a full time elementary P.E. teacher since he started with the district many moons ago, will now have elementary and high school classes. Tim Wilson, the high school P.E. teacher working part time for the district the past few years, will teach one high school P.E. class, work in the library-media center half days and will also be in charge of the three students in the GEDO program. Speaking of Doucette, his resignation as varsity softball coach was accepted by the board. Doucette is a throwback to the olden days when the P.E. teacher was expected to coach three sports as he coached the softball team five years after coaching track and field prior to those years, and is still the varsity cross country and girl’s basketball coach as well. He stated he tried hard to develop a good softball program but coaching three sports is very tough now days. He compiled a record of 52-47 in the softball program.

During closed session after the meeting, the board approved buying approximately 27 acres of land adjacent to the school which is owned by Nicole and Andy Meade. (A Special Meeting of the Electors was held May 19 which gave the board authority to purchase this specific property. The board came to an agreement on the price of $95,000 at the Sept. 15 regular board meeting in the executive session).

“The Board of Education is exercising foresight and vision for the possibility of future school district needs,” District Administrator Bill Yingst said. “The board felt this purchase was in the best interest of the district for future expansion needs which may arise in the next 50 years.This purchase will allow the school district to expand its facilities in the event we experience an influx of families moving into this area in the future. The district was not in search of property to purchase but the board felt that if a parcel of property came up for sale, which is adjacent to our existing property, they needed to make a serious consideration to purchase it.This is the only parcel of property which is not currently occupied  by resident housing around the school,” he added.

Superintendent’s report

Yingst informed the board that 99% of the repair work which needed to be done due to the summer tornado has been completed including the final sealer coat on the elementary gym floor. While the workers were still here, five inches of rain fell during the week which exposed some leaks in the roof, resulting in the workers being able to find and fix the problems.

A list of all coaching staff positions was presented and most positions are currently filled other than the varsity softball job vacated by Doucette, varsity boys track, assistant track and middle school track. If enough athletes turn out for basketball, a freshman coach could be added for both boys and girls.

A report was given on ACT scores by students in the district which shows Colfax students had a composite score of 22.5 in 2014 which is higher than the state average of 22.2.

“I think this speaks highly of our staff and our students and shows they are being prepared for higher education,” Yingst said.

Administrator reports

Grade 7-12 principal John Dachel presented a list of upcoming events which included homecoming activities this week, FFA Leadership Conference at Osseo and World Dairy Expo in Madison, Science Club at Hawk Ridge, the 7-12 fall band concert Oct. 28 and middle school and high school sports. Mid quarter progress reports will go out Oct. 3 and parent-teacher conferences will be Thursday, Oct 9 from 4-8 p.m. and Friday, Oct. 10 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. The school district has implemented the PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports) program which rewards good behavior throughout the school and so far 30 students in grades 7-12 have been recognized by school staff.

Colfax was selected for the Dunn-St. Croix Sportsmanship award for the 2013-14 sports season, scoring lower than any other school in the conference. (Lower score is good). The score is generated by the coaches, students and parents’ conduct during all sporting events throughout the school year and a banner was given to the school which will be hung in the gym. Dachel also presented a class count which shows there are 243 students in grades 9-12 with the junior class the largest with 75 while the sophomores have only 47.

Elementary principal Trevor Hovde stated there are 443 students in Junior Kindergarten through sixth grade with the largest class at 63 for second grade and the smallest at 46 for fourth grade. There are also eight students in the Early Childhood program. Updates on all reading programs and assessments were given and Hovde said the elementary students are also using the PBIS program with students earning a wristband from teachers for positive behavior.

“We have three rules we are living by: Be Respectful, Be Responsible and Be Safe,” Hovde said. “And our motto is “That’s How Vikings Sail,” he added. Classroom parties and an all school party can be earned when goals are met by the students. Events coming up are the kindergarten class taking their annual trip to the fire station Oct. 3, Fire Prevention Week Oct. 6-10 and National School Bus Safety Week Oct. 21-25.

Special Education and Pupil Services Director Polly Rudi gave an update on all state testing that will take place in the next two months including the PALS for JK-grade 2, WKCE for 4th, 8th and 10th graders and the ACT-Aspire test for all 9th graders. There are six English Language Learners currently enrolled in the elementary school for which inclusionary support with English Language Learning Plans are provided along with ACESS testing, according to Rudi.