Safety of students is foremost on minds of Pierz school administrators




Prompted by the Newtown, Conn. school shooting, Pierz School District 484 school officials have been reviewing the district’s crises and emergency plans.

“We held one initial meeting to review doors and entry issues at the high school,” Supt. George Weber told the Board during its first meeting of the new year, Jan. 30.

That morning, Preston Eurle from RA Morton Construction had met with administrators at the high school to review potential options for a secure entryway and possibly an addition to the entry that would allow capacity for entry through the office. “We also visited Pioneer Elementary to look at the entryway design and options for that building,” Weber said.

Some internal construction may be on the drawing board. While security cameras, electronic locks and key fobs are already in place at the high school, expanding the system may be necessary. Talks are also in progress with the Pierz Police Department regarding other security issues and the feasibility of resource officers in the buildings.

This summer, the sidewalks and bus loading zone on Kamnic Street in front of Healy High School will be reconstructed through a joint city/school project with funding provided by a Safe Routes to Schools grant. Administrators are declining the $10,000 flashing light on Kamnic Street that was part of the design. Discussions continue for making the area safer with less traffic congestion.

“This half of the year becomes much more hectic for administration because of the dual role of needing to manage the current year and more thoughts to next year,” said Weber. In addition to moving into the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) testing phase of the year, scheduling and new course offerings, he is working on implementing a more effective teacher and principal evaluation process to comply with state mandates.


Pierz School Board Briefs

In other agenda items at the Jan. 30 meeting, the Pierz School Board:

• Unanimously voted for Joanne Broschofsky as chair of Pierz School District 484 Board of Education. Her first order of business was to elect Mike Wilson as vice chair and Steve Boser as clerk. Board members Patty Stangl, Dean Virnig and Colleen Seelen were named directors;

• Made committee assignments with Broschofsky serving as hearing official for free/reduced meal applications, Stangl as Mid-State Education District representative, Virnig as community education advisory committee rep, and Wilson as legislative liaison for the Minnesota School Boards Association. Sharing duties on the curriculum committee are Virnig and Broschofsky, on the personnel committee are Seelen and Virnig, and on the staff development committee are Boser and Stangl;

• Heard Supt. George Weber report he is always glad to get past the mid-February mark, because it makes school closings due to severe winter weather conditions less of an issue. “Maybe the worst event of all of them, ironically, had nothing to do with snow or cold, but was caused by rain,” he said about the Jan. 11 freezing rain storm that precipitated a late start;

• Accepted donations from Grand Casino Mille Lacs of $1,000 each for the Pierz Softball Club and the Pioneer Student Council. In addition, the Letter Club received a $1,983 grant from the Minnesota State High School League Foundation;

• Approved the Morrison County Record’s bid for publishing legal information and notices;

• Ratified two-year contracts (2012-2014) with Tracy Voigt, transportation coordinator, Mark Gruber, head custodian, and Sheila Smallfield, district network administrator;

• Accepted the resignation of Lisa Schultz, high school special education teacher, effective Jan. 9, and hired Kelly Gotfredson as a long-term substitute for the remainder of the year. Casey Zehrer was employed as a long-term sub effective Feb. 11, for Mark Gray, longtime English instructor, upon his retirement. Also accepted was the retirement at the end of the school year of Terry Hargrave, high school custodian;

• Passed the routine resolution granting administration the authority to recommend programs and positions for curtailment or discontinuance should it become necessary to reduce expenditures;

• Supported the district’s application to the Minnesota State High School League Foundation for a $1,983 grant to help offset cost of participating in fine arts and athletic activities;

• Agreed to continue using Kevin Rupp as the district’s legal counsel through his new law firm, Rupp, Anderson, Squires and Waldspruger, P.A.;

• Reviewed the fall 2012 Community Education quarterly report submitted by Mary Tschida, community education director, Mid-State Education District minutes submitted by Stangl, as well as recent curriculum and staff development minutes; and

• Heard a presentation by Tanya Thielen regarding AIMSweb screenings, a universal assessment tool used at the elementary school to ensure students are meeting grade level targets.

The Board next meets Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. in the High School Media Center.