Pierz invites public to celebrate completion of projects

By Lorae Vardas, Correspondent

Pierz school officials are planning two special events celebrating the completion of separate construction projects.

The first will be Wednesday, Oct. 9 in observance of National Walk to School Day and the culmination of the Safe Routes To Schools sidewalk improvement project.

On that morning, buses will be unloading students from Holy Trinity, Pioneer Elementary and Healy High School at the Pierz Fire Hall with kids walking to their respective schools. Morrison County Public Health is asking that community residents join them in the trek for fun and wellness.

Sheila Funk, Safe Routes to Schools grant coordinator, said buses will be unloading between 7:45 a.m. and 8:10 a.m. in front of the fire station and exit onto Kapsner Street. Cars should park at the schools so they don’t add to the congestion. Walkers can meet them at the fire hall or join in anywhere along the route.

Pierz police and firefighters will be on hand to direct traffic, keeping it safe for everybody.

In a letter to parents from Supt. George Weber, he said buses will not pick up kids east of Main Street Oct. 9. Instead, they should walk to school and enjoy the exercise. If for any reason students are unable to walk, they have the option of remaining on the bus. In case of inclement weather, the event will be canceled.

The second event is set for Wednesday, Oct. 23 highlighting the completion of the newly-configured front entry at the high school making it more secure for students and staff. It also marks to the day the 50th anniversary of Pierz Healy High School and its dedication to Dr. R.T. Healy. The public is welcome to an informal open house from 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. to share memories of the legendary physician who served the area for more than 55 years.

The fall edition of Education Today due out with the Oct. 13 Morrison County Record is dedicated to the pioneer doctor’s memory. It also contains updated information regarding the celebration. Cookies and refreshments will be served.

“It is our hope to host a small celebration commemorating the 50-year anniversary of the dedication of our schools to Dr. Healy and celebrate the 50-year existence of the first large public school building in our district,” Weber told the School Board at the Sept. 25 meeting.

High School Principal Karrie Boser reported that Community Activity Day is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 16 when students will be out in force raking leaves around town. The district also is welcoming four exchange students this fall from Germany, Brazil, Columbia and South Korea.

Pierz School Board Briefs

As part of the consent agenda at the Sept. 25 meeting, the Pierz School Board:

• Accepted donations of $100 for the football activity fund from the Rev. Al Stangl and a $5,000 grant for the band program from the Five Wings Arts Council;

• Employed Traci Schommer, Connie Kieffer, Hannah Athman and Robin Mortenson as Pioneer Elementary paraprofessionals. Nicole Dickmann, Barbara Reese, Ron Grittner and Sheila Carter were hired as special education bus aides. Jason Lease replaces Ron Lindholm on his resignation as a bus driver;

• Approved additional hours for elementary paraprofessionals Wendy Kapsner and high school paraprofessionals Emma Nelson, Nathan Rothstein and Karen Gruber. College credit instructor Frank Weber’s contract hours also were increased;

• Accepted the retirement request from LeeAnn Gray, longtime elementary teacher, effective Nov. 8;

• Approved Randy Fischer, science teacher, as the robotics mentor and Olivia Hoff as the Knowledge Bowl adviser for the 2013-2014 school year;

• Granted a childcare leave to Michelle Litke, second-grade teacher, from Oct. 28 through Jan. 16, 2014. Lillian Warner was hired as a long-term substitute to fill the vacancy.

Under new district business, the School Board:

• Approved the district’s Accountability Report focusing on MCA assessment results, among other testing data. The full report is published in the fall edition of Education Today due out next week;

• Passed a resolution authorizing School District 484 to enter into a contract with Board Member Mike Wilson for bleacher equipment. As owner of A & W Bleacher Company, Wilson will provide a set of bleachers at the contracted price of $1,000;

• Passed a resolution to amend the district’s flexible spending account to comply with the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which basically means that employees who purchase individual health insurance through a public exchange (MNsure) cannot use pretax dollars to pay the premium;

• Certified the 2013 payable 2014 property tax levy at the maximum allowed by the state. The Minnesota Department of Education is backlogged on what districts can actually levy, so numbers will be adjusted later;

• Learned Pierz Schools received a Special Olympics Distinguished Service Award for 2013 Outstanding Delegation. Dave Rocheleau, activities director, accepted the award on behalf of the school; and

• Were informed that Walmart will be at Pioneer Elementary School Oct. 15, at 7:30 a.m. as part of its teacher recognition initiative. The corporate giant will be giving away 20 – $50 gift cards that teachers can spend as needed for classroom supplies.

The Board next meets Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. in the Healy High Board Room.