RE-2 School Board Closes Lincoln, Ponders 4 Day School Week


The Lamar RE-2 District school board, faced with an $860,000 budget shortfall for next year, took several steps during Monday night’s meeting to close the financial gap. One step was to close Lincoln school for next year. Director Elizabeth Whitham cast the lone no vote to close the school which was estimated to account for 30 to 40% of the desired savings. Next school year, 5th grade students will attend Parkview School and 6th grade students will attend, as one unit, Lamar Middle School. The move will increase student classroom size from 1 to 3 students, according to board president, Ron Peterson.

Before a standing room only crowd the board approved new schools superintendent Dave Tecklenburg’s salary at the base it was advertised for during the previous superintendent search. Chad Sailors was hired as the interim Lamar Middle School principal at the base salary for that position. He is replacing Tecklenburg as principal and will retain it until the last day of this school year. Tecklenburg, as interim superintendent, will receive his salary in his new position until June 30, 2011.

On a three-three split vote regarding a four-day school week, the board decided to keep their options open and conduct a public forum at some point in the near future. A cost savings study will be conducted to see how much money could be saved with this move, already in effect for Holly, McClave and Wiley schools. Former superintendent Soper, before his abrupt resignation last week, had submitted figures showing approximately $90,000 a year could be trimmed from the budget with the alteration. Board member Allan Medina stated that the board would have some certainty on savings by tailoring the staff schedules, as well as an estimate on utilities and related costs with the extra day cut from the school week. “Some other areas, such as supplies, will not be as readily available,” he commented. Peterson said community input is needed before coming to a decision, declaring, “These changes will have an community-wide impact, especially the way school families conduct their day-to-day lifestyles.”

The board voted unanimously for a one year salary freeze for the new school year, a savings of $105,000. Director Winsor said this will apply not only to salaries, but to a teacher’s academic level and subsequent promotions. Other actions included tabling health insurance for the 2011-2012 school year, adopting a resolution offering a one time retirement stipend, accepting the resignations of Hollie Blanchard as kindergarten teacher at Washington, the resignation of Kristin Ringgenberg, second grade teacher at Washington and the resignation of Marah Brase, fifth grade teacher at Lincoln. Overall, the board approved reducing staff by six positions in grades K-5, reducing two positions at the Middle school; an aide for ESL and an academic advisor. The high school staff was reduced by a total of three; two academic advisors and one English teacher. The move was amended by Elizabeth Whitham stating that teacher should be determined by the administrative staff, with board members Wheaton and Windsor voting against the amendment. Allan Medina stated that up to this point, the board had managed to trim $782,567 from the needed $860,000. Interim superintendent Tecklenburg volunteered that another $50,000 could be saved if the board decided not to act on approving capital reserve projects for the next school year.

At the outset of Monday’s meeting, the board and audience heard from Janell Martin, DECA advisor at the high school, as she introduced Suzie Lira, a high school student, recently voted as the DECA state president. Martin said Lira was the first student from Lamar to be so honored in over 20 years, and outlined the tasks she will face in her senior year in her new position. Lira presented her winning speech from the recent DECA competition for the board and the audience.

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