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Colfax school board approves two retirements, sets 2015-16 calender

by Marlys Kruger

Election of new officers, retirement approvals and increasing hot lunch prices and fees for summer swimming lessons were just a few things the Colfax School Board dealt with in their monthly meeting April 27.

Kyle Knutson was sworn in as a new board member, replacing Mike Lee who was presented a plaque by the board after serving two terms. Joel Hilson will remain president, Todd Kragness, vice president, Ken Neuburg, treasurer and Christie Hill will take over the clerk’s position. Hill will serve as the CESA 11 representative while Neuburg will continue to be the WASB representative. The official school paper will be The Messenger, the district attorney is Weld, Riley, Penn & Ricci and the official auditor is Wipfli, LLP.

Kragness volunteered to help hand out diplomas at this year’s graduation ceremony May 15. The Lottery and Gaming Settlement from Chippewa County was received in the amount of $9,235.34.

After reading letters of resignation/retirement from elementary teachers Debra Berndt and Vicki Maves, the board accepted the resignations. Both teachers will be recognized at the staff appreciation banquet May 27 at Whitetail Golf Course.

The board voted to increase the summer swimming lessons fee by $5, from $15 for one student to $20 and from $25 per family to $30.

“We haven’t raised the cost of lessons in over 12 years,” district administrator Bill Yingst said. “The cost of running the program has increased so we probably need to make an adjustment.”

The cost of eating hot lunch at school will also be higher this coming year. The DPI lists the weighted average lunch price equal to or above $2.70 as compliant. The Colfax district’s current weighted average is $2.40. A price increase is capped at 10 cents per school year. The board chose to increase the price 10 cents which equals $2.50 weighted average price. Lunch will cost $1.65 for four year olds, $2.40 for grades K-5, $2.55 for grades 6-12 and staff/adults will pay $3.55.

The district calender for next year was approved with the first day of school for students Sept. 1. Students will be done on May 27 which is before  Memorial Day due to the addition of extra minutes on to the school day. There will be several short breaks throughout the winter rather than one long break like some schools take.

Administrators’ reports

Grades 7-12 principal John Dachel presented a long list of the upcoming events including music programs, sporting events and banquets for the rest of the school year. All events are listed on the school calender and the school website. He also congratulated members of the FFA who competed in the Agriculture Technology contest in River Falls, members of the Forensics team who competed at state, the cast of the musical “Suessical” and members of the Science Olympiad team who also competed at the state level

Elementary principal Trevor Hovde  gave reading program updates along with spring testing schedules. He also informed the board students in Mrs. Cox’s second grade class was awarded third prize from the Autism Society for the Annual Autism Awareness National Essay Contest in the grade K-2 category. He also stated fifth graders have started the D.A.R.E program and will have a graduation ceremony for it May 22.

Special Education/ Assessment Director Polly Rudi mentioned there was a delay in the state’s ability to roll out the Badger 3-8 examination on March 23. As a result the tests have been pushed back and a list of those tests dates was presented. Rudi thanked all special education parents for filling out the service surveys for the DPI and special education teachers and their para-educators for taking their own time to bring high school students to the prom, complete with tuxedos and dinner.

During the closed session the board voted to offer a one time, post-employment benefit for the 2014 – 2015 school year of $15,000 annually for five years into a Retiree Only, Premium Only HRA until the allotted benefit is exhausted or the retiree becomes Medicare eligible.  Qualifications are 56 years of age with 20 years of service at Colfax or a total of 85 points (sum of age and years of service combined at Colfax) by June 30, 2015.  Qualified employees will find their own health insurance and not be a part of the school district health insurance plan upon meeting the prescribed criteria for retirement as listed.  Others interested in retirement who may be near the qualification cut off for benefits, may submit a written proposal for review. All proposals will be considered.