April 25, 2013 | Volume 118, Issue No. 17

Barnum school to hire principal

The Barnum School Board voted to hire a high school principal at the meeting of the board on Tuesday, April 16.

Discussion had taken place at last month’s board meeting about whether to hire or not hire a high school principal, due to budget restraints after the next school year.

Board Chair Pat Poirier had asked for the opinions of the board members at the last meeting.

At this meeting, he asked again.

“Do we have the money in the future?” he asked. “I would like to keep everyone the same and spend the reserve. But we have board goals.”

Superintendent Dave Bottem said that 24 applications had been received after the position had been advertised.

“The money is already in next year’s budget,” he said. “It depends on what the Legislature does. Can we continue to have the position with what we have? Yes.”

Several board members wanted to wait until the May meeting, when it is known how much education funding will be increased by the Legislature. Others wanted to wait and explore options.

The motion passed. Board members Donnie Juntunen and Poirier voted against hiring a high school principal.

The board turned its attention to replacing a kindergarten teacher.

Supt. Bottem recommended waiting. He added that there are usually 100 applicants for teaching positions.

The motion to hire an elementary teacher failed. Juntunen and Poirier voted for hiring the teacher.

Consider hiring an elementary counselor was next on the agenda.

Although it was said that the elementary principal should not have to deal with mental health issues, the vote to hire a counselor failed. Poirier voted for hiring the counselor.

Supt. Bottem said that he would explore other options to cover the needs.

The board had voted to approve the resignation, due to retirement, of Walt Westerberg, the transportation director, on the consent agenda.

Supt. Bottem explained that the mechanical work on the buses would be completed elsewhere but recommended that a transportation director was needed to do minor mechanical work and to clean the buses, as well as coordinate the drivers, take a bus out if a bus breaks down and similar duties.

A motion to hire a transportation director passed unanimously.

The board also voted unanimously to hire an athletic director, as per the committee’s recommendation. The position will be advertised outside of the school district.

Supt. Bottem asked for feedback about the proposal to build on to the high school building and to install a new boiler in the elementary school.

“The elementary school is as big as it’s going to be,” he said. “The oldest part was built in 1962, and a new boiler will be more energy efficient.”

In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Supt. Bottem explained that the elementary school has grown, and more space was needed in the high school to accommodate those students.

Currently, the elementary school has 456 students, an increase of 13 students since March 2012, and the high school has 342 students, an increase of 19 students since March 2012.

The board is considering plans to add six to eight classrooms, a band room, another gym and locker rooms.

Creating a security entrance to the high school may be added into the project.

The plans are to hold a bond referendum in the fall of 2014.

The proposal will be published in the Public Reporter, on Facebook, Twitter and on the school’s website, www.barnum.k12.mn.us. Feedback is requested from school district residents.

The next meeting of the Barnum School Board was set for Tuesday, May 21, at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.

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