Supporters bring 2,000 signatures to school board
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 5, 2002
With petitions bearing more than 2,000 signatures in their hands, a group of local residents is asking the Albert Lea school board to consider putting another referendum before voters this year.
Tuesday, March 05, 2002
With petitions bearing more than 2,000 signatures in their hands, a group of local residents is asking the Albert Lea school board to consider putting another referendum before voters this year. The petitions were brought to the board at Monday night’s school board meeting.
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The board also approved a contract with the district’s custodial staff, the second settlement in the current round of labor negotiations.
In bringing the signed petitions to the board, Dennis Dieser spoke on behalf of the group organizing the petition drive. They are planning on staying organized and will continue to work at informing people about the need for additional sources of funding for district programs, he said. The group will be calling itself TEAM – Together Education will Achieve More.
Board vice-chair Tom Eaton thanked the group for its efforts. The board offered no comments on the likelihood of a referendum.
A referendum that would have raised an estimated $1.7 million per year for school programs was defeated by Albert Lea school district voters in November.
The contract with the custodial staff approved by the board had already been ratified by the employees. It covers the current school year and the 2002-2003 school. Under the terms of the agreement, which is nearly identical to the one offered to support staff, custodians will receive a salary increase of 2 percent in the first year and 1.8 percent in the second year.
The contract also provides an increase in health insurance coverage. Health-care benefits provided the greatest challenge during negotiations, said Eaton. Keeping benefits reasonable for both sides is difficult when the district and employees can’t control those costs, he said.
The district still is engaged in ongoing negotiations with food service staff, administrators, teachers and paraprofessionals, as well as a plethora of individual contracts.
In other business, the board:
– Adjusted the budget for Community Education to account for an increase in revenue and student services for the Adult Basic Education program this school year and to allow the ECFE and School Readiness programs to spend into their reserve in order to maintain their current levels of state revenue. The additional money would be used to conduct more outreach in low income areas of the district, cover expenses related to the move from Ramsey Center to Brookside, and purchase some items that will create savings for the program later on.
– Heard a report about summer academic programs from Judy Knudtson, curriculum director. The district will be organizing summer classes that are aimed at helping students catch up to their peers or receive additional challenges. Knudtson hopes to have summer programming available for every grade level.
– Heard a report from Heidi Cunningham, Community Education director, about the driver’s education program. The current proposal to have Community Ed take over the district’s driver’s education program has been tabled until the current program has ended. Cunningham said that Community Education would be willing to create a driver’s education program under it’s own rules if there was a need. She also reported that there will be two private driving schools operating in this area by this summer.