School board members tour new elementary school

Posted January 22, 2013 at 8:52 pm

At Miller’s school board meeting January 14, board members were given a tour of the new elementary school, presently under construction.

Construction manager Brooke Peterson, Bossardt Corporation, started the tour by pointing out pipe installation now underway. All of the building is now enclosed, and all rooms are at least framed in.

Beginning at the lunch area for the elementary students, Peterson said it will also be the new concession area, as it is located between the Armory gym and the new gym.

The new gymnasium will seat 500 spectators, and a regional wrestling tourney has already been booked for the 2013-14 season.

The large music room across the hall from the gym will also include practice rooms.

Each classroom has its own thermostat to regulate temperature. The large library is easily accessed from all classrooms, and board chair David Fremark commented, “It’s the center of the elementary school universe.”

The school “headquarters” is located near the main entrance. And, Peterson said, safety and security measures have been factored in to the building plans.

First on the meeting’s agenda were principal reports. Elementary principal Tammy Caffee said elementary students are anxious to see the new school, and asked if Peterson could arrange a walk-through for the students. The student LEGO exhibition will be January 29 from 3:30 to 4:30. At that time, a presentation will be made of checks from the Monsanto “Grow Communities” program. Robin Sivertsen, Ree Heights, received a $2,500 donation, which will go to the elementary library. Because Hand County is designated a “drought county,” Sivertsen received another $2,500, which will go to the Rustler Roost.

Secondary principal Steve Schumacher reported he is continuing “teacher observations.” Parent-teacher conferences will be February 8 from 2:30 to 8:30 p.m. Venture Communications employees looked at the school’s public address system, which had not worked properly for some time. They found some bad wiring, and Schumacher said it appears to be working well now.

Schumacher said the National Guard has donated two Students Against Destructive Decisions banners, which will be displayed in the Armory and the Commons. The Community Health office will offer free flu vaccinations for students.

Schumacher also reported that Miller’s Quiz Bowl team participants placed first at the Pierre Academic Challenge, scoring 400 points. Another Quiz Bowl is scheduled at White River in March. Eighth grader Trevor Parmely won the local Geography Bee, held January 7.

Superintendent Mike Ruth listed “Rustler RahRahs” and also commended the Quiz Bowl team, and Parmely, as well as Devon Gnat, who was named outstanding wrestler at the Webster Tournament. Reaching Academic All-Star status were the football cheerleaders, the cross-country team and the volleyball team.

In addition to the elementary building update, discussion items included recognizing the Miller School Board as part of school board recognition week, and discussion of the procedure for the superintendent evaluation.

Superintendent Ruth discussed an event planned by the junior class for a prom fundraiser, called the Polar Plunge. To be held Friday, Jan. 18 from 4 to 6 p.m., some people will get into a tank filled with water, and stay for a period of time. Ruth said the students had done their homework…checked with a physician, arranged for EMTs and the like. He asked if the board opposed the event. No opposition was voiced, so Ruth said the Polar Plunge could be held.

Ruth also discussed security at the Armory, which is unsupervised after hours. He said some students gain access to the Armory using someone else’s key fob. Persons with key fobs are advised that if their fob is loaned to an unauthorized person, the fob could be deactivated.

Ruth discussed the budget for FY 2014. He plans to form a committee, including community members, to consider ways to make budget reductions, and present findings to the board in March.

Ruth said the district had $1.5 million in reserve, but $400,000 of that amount is budgeted for 2013 spending. About 90 percent of the budget goes to salaries and transportation.

“We’re expecting to get a three percent increase from the legislature, but there’s no guarantee,” Ruth said. “We need to think of how to cut about $300,000 from the 2014 budget. It’s a situation we need to address now.”

The board approved a request from the Miller Wrestling Club to waive fees for their use of the armory, commons and wrestling room for their annual AAU wrestling tournament February 17.

Tuesday, April 9 was set for the annual school election. Connie Schroeder and Kurt Pfeifle’s terms are expiring.

The board also approved retaining Rodney Freeman, Jr. for the 2013-2014 negotiation process, and recognized the MEA as the official bargaining unit for the Miller School District.

The board approved a contract with Helms and Associates to design and plan, bid and provide construction services for parking and bus turn-around areas for the new building project. Ruth said three phases are considered: $13,778 for design/plan; $2,640 bid; and $32,000 construction, and that amount is in addition to the budget of the elementary building. However, the board does not have to accept all three phases.

Also approved was Payment Application #8 totaling $620,532.35, for elementary building construction.

Following an executive session, the board approved a work agreement, hiring Jerry Turner as a full-time custodian; approved extended leave time for JoEllen Wieseler, elementary counselor; and approved the retirement request of Charles Sizer, with commendation, to take effect at the end of the school year.