Pierz Schools begin year with vision statement and physical upgrades

By Lorae Vardas, Correspondent

It’s an unwritten fact that Pierz school officials and staff have always tried to work in unity to build an extraordinary learning experience for all students. Now, for the first time since its establishment, the 2012-2013 High School Student Handbook begins with a vision statement pledging to provide quality facilities and instructional practices in order to attain success in both academic achievements and life skills.

“We work in partnership with students, parents and community to continue our tradition of success, hard work and respect,” states the introduction to six identified goals. “Pierz students will: 1) Read across all curricular areas for comprehension and application of information; 2) Implement critical thinking skills to solve complex problems; 3) Show technology competence through research design and presentation; 4) Demonstrate purposeful and creative communication skills in speeches, writing, projects and performances; 5) Respect all people, all resources and model responsible citizenship; and 6) Be accountable for personal performance and embrace the value of self-improvement of mind and body.”

Faculty, staff and administration developed the vision over the past year, which the Board approved at its June meting. The handbook was officially accepted at the Board’s July 25 meeting. Additional revisions were made in Healy High credit requirements and in the honors policy/class rankings effective for 2014 graduates.

Supt. George Weber reported the summer improvement projects were proceeding in a timely manner. The Performing Arts Center (PAC)/gym roof replacement is done and within budget, including elimination of the skylights. Carpeting is complete in the original Healy hallway along with removal of old tile and carpeting.

“The girls’ locker room remodel is ongoing and on target. We are awaiting shipment of shower partitions and the lockers. At this point, that project is slightly under the projected budget,” said Weber. “New data switches, fiber optic cabling and security camera system just started.”

Pierz School Board Briefs

In other agenda items at the July meeting, the Pierz School Board:

• Designated Farmers and Merchants State Bank of Pierz, MSDLAF and MSDMAX as official depositories and the Morrison County Record as the official newspaper for publishing public notices;

• Set the last Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. for regular board meetings. Compensation for the regular monthly meetings remains at $80. An additional $20 is paid for special meetings and negotiating sessions held the day of the regular meeting. Other special/negotiating meetings are paid on a pro rata basis. The chair and clerk receive an extra $20 per regular board meeting. Mileage reimbursement when personal vehicles are used for school business stays at 50 cents;

• Authorized the superintendent and Business Manager Earl Athman to invest school funds not immediately needed for school operations and have the action approved at the next meeting;

• Renewed membership in the Minnesota School Board Association for 2012-2013 in the amount of $4,319. The superintendent would like to see the organization advocate more effectively for legislation benefitting basic education and policies;

• Entered into a contract with the Pierz Activity Association for the upcoming year establishing a payment schedule for people who work school events. Athletic fees and ticket prices remain the same as last year;

• Increased lunch prices five cents per meal on directive of the federal government. Full pay breakfast goes to 95 cents per meal this fall. Full pay lunch for pre K through sixth goes to $1.75 and full pay for grades 7-12 goes to $1.95. Adults pay $3.20 per meal. There was no change in free/reduced meals or extra milk. New menus are being designed to comply with federal regulations to include more fruits and vegetables and less starches, said Earl Athman;

• Accepted the escalated bid for dairy products from Agropur, Inc. (Schroeder brand) and the lone bid from Pan O Gold for bread products for the 2012-2013 school year;.

• Approved property and casualty insurance in the amount of $50,640 and workers compensation insurance in the amount of $50,493 with EMC Insurance, which is a $4,000 increase over last year’s cost;

• Adopted the Post-Issuance Debt Compliance Policy as presented to comply with IRS rules governing arbitrage issues. The documentation deals with the refinancing of Pioneer Elementary School;

• Approved a one-year leave of absence for Dan Saehr, special education teacher, with a stipulation that he notify the district in writing of his intent to return by March 1, 2013. Saehr plans to pursue a different teaching license. The Board approved posting the open position;

• Accepted the resignation of Bonnie Karnowski, high school paraprofessional, but will hold off posting the position until new enrollment figures are known;

• Granted a 10-week child care leave to Heather Kimman beginning approximately October 29 and approved posting for a long-term substitute for the position;

• Approved a transportation agreement with Annette Miller Ross who had two children attending private school in Brainerd the past school year. Pierz is obligated to transport students to the district boundary in such situations, and paid Ross $8 per day for the eight-mile a.m. and p.m. trips;

• Accepted a donation of $250 from the Pierz Lions for the youth football program; and

• Scheduled a special board meeting for Thursday, Aug. 23 at 7 a.m. to pass the resolution calling for the upcoming school board election. Incumbents Mike Wilson, Steve Boser and Joanne Broschofsky are up for re-election. Affidavits of candidacy for the three, four-year terms are available through Aug. 14 at the District Office. Filing fee is $2.

The Board’s next monthly meeting is set for Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 6 p.m. in the High School Board Room. It will be preceded by a special meeting at 5 p.m. to review the superintendent’s evaluation results.