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GLENWOOD CITY — Superintendent Tim Johnson informed the Glenwood City Board of Education at its August 30th meeting that 16 candidates had applied for the open position of high school/middle school principal.
Johnson also told members that he had offered interviews to five of those candidates with those interviews scheduled for today, September 8. He added that open invitations to be a part of the interview committee had been extended to members of the board along with middle school and high school staff members and three parents that have children in both the middle and high schools.
The committee will interview all five candidates and chose two finalists which will then be interviewed, in closed session, by the board and administration during the September 13th meeting. It is Johnson’s hope that the board would then approve a new principal that same evening to get the new person on board and sped up any transition process.
“I am excited about the prospects and am confident that out of the five people we’re going to have a good selection just like we did for the special education and pupil services director position,” said Johnson.
The superintendent also reported that just a few days following the annual meeting and budget hearing which was held August 16th, he received the district’s preliminary equalized evaluation.
“As I thought only even more so, we have an 8.7 percent increase,” noted Johnson.
That equates to approximately a $35 million increase in property values in the municipalities that comprise the Glenwood City School District.
“So, the mill rate (which was set at 8.22 just two weeks earlier) goes down because there is now a bigger chunk to share,” explained Johnson to the board.
He did however caution members that just because the mill rate decreases does not necessarily translate into a lower tax bill for property owners.
“The mill rate is a little bit of a farce to be honest with you because your house is worth more and if you pay less (on the mill rate) it still balance out to be about the same,” said Johnson.
Johnson continued by telling the board that if it did nothing, the mill rate would decrease by about another 70 cents to around 7.56 even though state aid has not yet been finalized.
That would be nearly a $2 drop in the mill rate from the previous year which Johnson said may present some disadvantages for the district in doing so.
“I think we have to consider, as a district, whether or not we want to do that,” noted Johnson. “In the fact, there’s some disadvantages, both from the aid level, and from the taxpayer level if the levy is doing this throughout the year. You want to have some stability in that as its relates to the percentage of aid that you get back from the state.”
Johnson said the district receives about 75 percent of its funds through state aids partly because Glenwood City has maintained its levy.
One option would be to do nothing and let the mill rate decrease $2 which would be good for this coming year but may hurt the district financially the following year according to Johnson.
The superintendent then said another option would be to levy additional dollars, around $200,000, which could be used in two ways – one through a process known as defeasance which would allow the district to pay down its mortgage sooner and the other would be to leverage additional dollars for community education.
Either of those options, according to Johnson, would help level off the levy to some degree which in the long term, he said, would benefit the district.
A decision on how to proceed will need to be made by the second meeting in October.
“The good news is we have options that are all, quite honestly, pretty good that still maintain a decrease in the mill rate of about $1.20 to $1.50,” added Johnson.
As it has in many of its meeting this year, the board handled several personnel items under the consent agenda including approving the resignations of high school business and marketing education teacher Nannette Goodman and elementary counselor Paula Gretzlock.
The board also gave its nod to hire Patrick Olson as the boys’ head basketball coach. Olson, who previously taught at the Glenwood City Elementary and served as the boys’ head basketball coach, currently serves as superintendent for the New Richmond School District and said in his letter of application that his current board of education does support his pursuit of this coaching position.
Erin McCarthy was also approved to serve as the middle school girls’ volleyball coach.
And finally, following a closed session, the board hired Dr. Randy Ketola to fill the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teacher position. Ketola most recently served as the high school science teacher before resigning this past May to accept a similar position in the Osceola School District.
The news of Dr. Ketola’s return to Glenwood City was heralded as good new by Superintendent Johnson who said, “We are lucky to be welcoming back Dr. Randy Ketola.”
Ketola will be focusing on course work that supports STEM teaching, according to the superintendent, as well as filling part of the courses that are currently not able to be offered in technology education.
Johnson added that part of the design of the STEM position will be to extend new opportunities to the K-12 students that are in need of additional enrichment activities.