School board gives ‘thumbs up’ for agreement with On Hand Development

Posted April 16, 2013 at 5:04 pm


Miller School Board met at 6 p.m. April 8 for their regular meeting.

New school gym.jpg

WORK IN PROGRESS. Secondary principal Steve Schumacher (left) and Superintendent Mike Ruth survey the gymnasium, and the newly-installed basketball hoops and backboards. Ruth A. Moller|The Miller Press

With dire predictions of bad weather Tuesday, the decision was made to postpone the school board election until April 16.

Board members took another tour of the new elementary school. Painting and tiling is underway, and cabinets are being installed in classrooms. Although much finishing remains, including outside brickwork, the project is still on schedule according to site manager Brooke Peterson, and May 17 is still the target date for “substantial completion.”

Representatives of the On Hand Development Corporation and the Banquet Center Committee were present to discuss the old elementary school. On Hand chair Bryan Brietling said their goal is to have the school make an intergovernmental transfer of the school, and the next step would be to have the City assume ownership and upkeep of the building.

John Carr, with On Hand, said it is important to “get moving” on the transfer, so grants can be applied for.

School Board chair David Fremark said the board wants to make sure the school’s use of the elementary gym is part of the agreement, and some other matters need to be considered. But the board literally gave a “thumbs-up” show of approval to move ahead. The district will talk to school attorney Rodney Freeman about drawing up an agreement that will be satisfactory to all concerned.

Elementary principal Tammy Caffee reported that Dakota STEP testing is underway. A Book Fair is coming up, and proceeds will go to the new elementary library.

Caffee said several elementary staff will attend the annual Technology and Innovation in Education (TIE) Conference at the end of the month, stating it is vital for teachers to keep abreast of technology innovations, and how to apply technology to the classroom.

Secondary principal Steve Schumacher said Dakota STEP testing is also taking place in the upper grades. Mid-term grades for the second semester are due Friday.

Upcoming dates include the showing of a movie about bullying to parents and interested community members before it is shown to junior high and high school students; a student assembly will be held April 19, prior to the prom on the 20th, regarding using seatbelts, driving safe and not drinking.

He also said 18 MHS math students will participate in a regional math contest to be held on the Northern State University campus in Aberdeen.

Schumacher said he has been approached by law enforcement about having a drug dog explore the school and the parking lot. The board endorsed the idea.

Schumacher also a school play has been selected, which will be directed by three senior girls. Performance dates will be in May. The play is a “Seussified version” of “The Odyssey.”

Superintendent Mike Ruth reported on his attendance at the American Association of School Administrators national convention. He gave an overview of presentations by several speakers, thanked the board for approving his attendance at the convention, and said the experience had “rejuvenated” him as an educator.

“Rustler Rah Rahs” included recognition of boys’ and girls’ basketball team members named to All-Conference Basketball; to participants at the USD Jazz Festival; and to FFA teams and individual students who had performed well in Career Development Events (CDEs), as well as members who will be recognized at the State FFA Convention.

The board discussed the “alternative” calendar, proposed to have four days of school each week, and the fifth day to be used for staff professional development and for extra help for students outside the classroom. Supt. Ruth said he had talked to teachers, and would continue to do so. Approval of the alternative calendar was 65 to 35 percent in favor of it, and he also cited another instance of 71 percent vs. 29 percent approval rate. He had also talked to a couple of teachers from the Wolsey-Wessington District. That district has a four-day week, and the teachers he talked to had only favorable comments. Ruth commented that almost half of Miller’s year already has four days or less of instruction per week. Out of 38 weeks, 18 weeks consisted of four days or less, while 20 weeks had five days of instruction. The board will consider the alternative week further at the next meeting.

Cheerleading uniforms are to be purchased for the coming year. The board agreed some silver could be used in the uniforms, because it would be too expensive to request uniforms that had to be “tailor-made” without silver.

In action items, the board approved use of Miller School District facilities for the 2013 summer recreation clinic programs. Salaries and benefits are paid from clinic registration fees, with no cost to the district.

Approval was also given to authorize membership in the S.D. High School Activities Association for the coming year; approved waiving fees for use of the theater for a piano recital, requested by Desiree Yeigh; approved use of the school vehicle and classroom for driver’s education training; and approved waiving fees for the Miller Swim Club to use the armory and exercise equipment May 20-31 for preparation for the upcoming season.

Payment application #11 was approved for the elementary building project, totaling $241,789.25.

Following an executive session, the board accepted the resignation of Gayle Vrooman as assistant girls’ basketball coach, and approved a work agreement with Dwight Aymar as a part-time custodian.

And in final action, they approved the contract for Sara Gates as business manager for the remainder of fiscal year 2013, for $9,375.00.

The next meeting will be held Monday, May 13 at 6 p.m.

Ruth A. Moller|The Miller Press

RAY CAFFEE has spent his career surrounded by books; now he’s ready to read more of them.

Ruth A. Moller|The Miller Press

WORK IN PROGRESS. Secondary principal Steve Schumacher (left) and Superintendent Mike Ruth survey the gymnasium, and the newly-installed basketball hoops and backboards.

Ruth A. Moller|The Miller Press

THE CALENDAR SAID April 11; the weather said one more round of winter. Colorful playground equipment is muted by the falling snow, but the ducks kept on swimming, despite the conditions.