Royalton School Board with newly elected members gets organized for new year

Pictured are (from left): newly-elected Royalton School Board Members Mark Petron, Noel Guerard and Ellie Holm, at their first meeting as active members, Tuesday.
Pictured are (from left): newly-elected Royalton School Board Members Mark Petron, Noel Guerard and Ellie Holm, at their first meeting as active members, Tuesday.

By MOLLIE RUSHMEYER
Correspondent
During the annual organizational meeting held Tuesday, the Royalton School Board voted Directors Jim Block and Dale Lenz as representatives to Schools for Equity in Education (SEE) by a 6-0 vote.

As per a presentation made by Brad Lundell of the SEE organization at the Dec. 19, 2016, Royalton School Board meeting, SEE is a coalition of 60 Minnesota school districts and three cooperative units who tend to have lower property value or heavy concentrations of agricultural or seasonal properties. The main goal of SEE is to help its member districts access the same types of technology, faculty, and funding as the higher property wealth districts in the state.

Royalton’s children are among the 240,000, or approximately one-third of Minnesota’s K-12 students. The districts, like Royalton, served by SEE do not see the same state funding as higher property value districts. In fact, SEE districts are ranked among the bottom for state funding.

Membership in SEE allows that school district to have a constant presence at the State Capitol. While at the SEE meetings, eight to 10 times a year, the Royalton Board Representatives will have the opportunity for networking with similar districts, further education, and access to a community liaison to connect with state legislators on their district’s behalf.

Lenz said he felt the program and Royalton school district’s membership were worthwhile, helping to gain the ear of state representatives when it came to funding decisions at the State Capitol.

Supt. Dr. Jon Ellerbusch said, “Our membership in SEE is beneficial to our students and community for two reasons. First, Royalton School District receives well below the state average in funding. We rank 308 out of the 331 Minnesota school districts. Secondly, we have lower property wealth in our district than most others.”

Royalton has been a member for five years. Ellerbusch said he has witnessed firsthand how instrumental the SEE program has been to the financial needs of the district. In year one, the district received $300/pupil, $424/pupil in year two and going forward, and now for the current year, long term facilities maintenances dollars.

“There is still a long way to go,” Supt. Ellerbusch says. But added, “With the additional dollars our district is able to replace a bus each year, adopt new curriculum, and purchase the latest technology for our students.”

Going forward, Royalton School District, with the help of SEE and other district members, will work toward a level playing field with quality education regardless of where students live and the property wealth in their area.

On March 1, SEE, as well as any school district boards and concerned citizens are welcome to lobby at the State Capitol for fair funding for their district and students.

Royalton School Board Briefs

Other business during Tuesday’s Royalton School Board organizational meeting, included:

  • Voting 4-2 to make Noel Guerard, a recent addition to the Royalton School Board, the chair of the Board for 2017. Director Jim Block was the other candidate for chair; Lenz and Block voted for Block;
  • Director Randy Hackett was elected vice chair  over incumbent Lenz, on a 4-2 vote. Block and Lenz voted for Lenz;
  • Another new Board member, Director Ellie Holm, becoming clerk, on a 4-2 vote. Block and Lenz voted for Block;
  • Unanimously approving Director Jim Block as treasurer;
  • A discussion brought forward by Lenz to limit the length of board meetings to three hours. Lenz said he didn’t feel anything productive happens after three hours. He suggested adjourning to another time if the meeting started to exceed the three hours. No final decision was made at that time;
  • Setting compensation for board members to attend regular meetings, special meetings, committee and other meetings the same as last year: $25 for less than two hours, $50 for two to four-and-one-half hours, and $85 for more than four-and-a-half hours;
  • Approving Michelle Hauber, business manager to invest funds on behalf of the Royalton School District as well as being named the authority to make electronic fund transfers;
  • Unanimously naming the Morrison County Record as the official newspaper of Royalton School District;
  • Naming Holm as the Bowlus City Council meeting representative once a month;
  • Naming Guerard and Hackett (alternate), as Comparable Worth Committee representatives. The committee’s purpose is to ensure fair and equal pay between the male and female employees within the district as well as decide whether certain employee groups need to receive a higher wage;
  • Naming Guerard and Holm (alternate) Curriculum Advisory Committee representatives to review curriculum, discuss the effectiveness and relevance of the current curriculum, as well as make recommendations for changes;
  • Electing Lenz and Holm (alternate), as representatives for the Mid-State Education District Board. The group meets to set policies for the Mid-State Education District in areas of special education, technology, and distance learning;
  • Naming Lenz and Petron (alternate), as representatives to the Minnesota State High School League;
  • Naming Lenz as the Royalton City Council meeting representative;
  • Electing Hackett and Holm as Staff Development Committee representatives. This district committee also consists of teachers, non-teaching staff, parents, and administrators who work together to create and maintain a staff development plan and match that with the education outcomes the Board has determined;
  • Hearing Hauber share information regarding the Wellness Committee which is a program focused on promoting physical health and wellness for the school district employees and offers incentives to the employees for engaging in wellness activities. Director Block was elected as representative with Guerard as alternate;
  • Hearing concerns regarding the number of credit card or p-card users within the school district. Fourteen people were named as card holders, each a head of their department. Guerard said he was concerned about the number of people and the accountability for each person. Both Supt. Dr. Jon Ellerbusch and Hauber explained the spending limits for each card, the receipts required for each purchase, and the reports sent at the end of each month to the Board for approval. Guerard brought up the state laws requiring board approval for money spent. The cardholders were approved with a 6-0 vote.

The Royalton School Board will hold a regular Board meeting in the high school media center Monday, Jan. 23, at 6 p.m.