School board evaluates superintendent in 3-hour closed session

Published 9:43 pm Monday, March 18, 2019

A potential legislative change in teaching licensure requirements could make retaining some teachers more difficult for Albert Lea Area Schools.

Superintendent Mike Funk said a bill before the state legislature could make it more difficult to renew licenses of a specific type of teacher the district does utilize.

“The district is concerned about it,” Funk said.

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Teachers with a Tier 1 license do not necessarily hold a formal teaching license, but instead receive a special license that allows them to teach a specific skill they are knowledgeable in, such as construction or electrical work, Funk said. These can help districts fill positions requiring skills that may otherwise be hard to find.

Currently, Funk said, educators with a Tier 1 license can continually renew that license. However, the bill in front of the legislature would limit Tier 1 teachers to one renewal unless there is “good cause” for future renewals, Funk said.

“So, it makes it more difficult,” he said.

The district has two Tier 1 teachers, said Executive Director of Administrative Services Kathy Niebuhr, both of whom are currently close to attaining their formal teaching licenses. One is an English language teacher, while the other is in special education.

Funk also noted the Senate passed a snow day relief act approximately a week ago. He anticipates news on what the House decides will come soon, as it was supposed to hear their version of the act Monday, Funk said.

He noted the Albert Lea school district is still above the mandated state minimum for instructional days.

The school board also entered into a closed session to evaluate the district superintendent, which lasted for over three hours. The school board will make a statement on the evaluation at the April 1 school board meeting.

“I just think the board takes it very seriously and it’s an important part of the school district,” school board chairman Ken Petersen said.

The Albert Lea Area Schools board approved two property tax abatements, including one abatement for new construction by David and Lois Palmer at a new construction address of 1727 Keystone Drive. The second was an amendment to a prior abatement resolution dealing with properties in the Wedgewood Cove Estates.

Originally approved in 2015, The abatement had already been amended once before in 2018 due to a change in ownership.

The most recent amendment, approved Monday, added language to indicate the effective date of the property tax abatement, Deputy Superintendent Lori Volz said. The abatement included four components, and all four were not completed until 2018 tax time. Therefore, taxes came into effect in 2018, Volz said. The abatement does have a financial limit, and the end date of the abatement was not amended, Volz said.

In other action:

• The school board passed a unanimous resolution to support a potential city move toward increasing the legal age of tobacco purchase to 21.

School board member Dennis Dieser said he was asked by Blue Zones Organization Lead Ellen Kehr to present the resolution to the City Council.

• The school board recognized the six Albert Lea High School wrestlers who competed in the state wrestling tournament March 1 and 2.

“Very proud of these guys,” interim activities director and wrestling coach Paul Durbahn said. “They earned the trip.”

Those who wrestled at the state tournament included senior Zach Glazier, who won his second state title this year; senior Nic Cantu, who finished third; senior Brady Nielsen, sophomore Griffin Studier, sophomore Caleb Talamantes and eighth-grader Cole Glazier.

“You guys represented the district really well, so thanks for your efforts on the mats and off,” Funk said.

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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