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Board OKs contract renewals
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The Fennimore School Board approved the authorization of contract renewals and the issuance of letters of intent during a meeting Tuesday, March 13.
“Once we make the decision with staffing we try to get it done right away,” District Administrator Jamie Nutter said. “That helps our district focus on education rather than politics.
“What we are doing now is offering everybody from our work available reports letters of intent to move forward with teaching assignment notices.”
Prior to taking action on the contract renewals and letters of intent, the board approved the final notice of non-renewal of the 12 teachers who were given a preliminary notice  during a meeting Feb. 29.
“We did not have any requests for special conference because the high school teachers understand they are going from more than full-time to back to full-time and Mrs. Caywood felt this was the best use of her contract as well,” Nutter said.
As a result of the action, the elementary art contract of Lana Caywood will be reduced from five days a week to four days a week.
In addition, the seventh assignment contracts of Larry Albrecht, Richard Baker, Shelby Mitchell, Carrie Krogman, Rhonda Rhomberg, Roger Boettcher, LuAnne Moen, Boone Tollefson, Brad Van Epps, Cory Bussan and Judith Volkmann will not be renewed.
A seventh assignment contract allows a staff member to supervise a study hall during what would be their prep period. Albrecht, Baker, Mitchell, Krogman, Rhomberg, Boettcher, Moen, Tollefson, Van Epps, Bussan and Volkmann will continue their teaching duties in the high school as they have previously.
“In future years we will try to avoid making extra assignments be a part of the teacher contracts, to avoid going through multiple non-renewals,” Nutter said.
Budget status
Earlier in the meeting, Nutter provided an update regarding the 2011-12 fiscal year budget.
Nutter noted the district is presently 72 percent through the school year and 71 percent through the fiscal year.
“Our gas for heat is down because of a combination of a mild winter and our more efficient boilers,” he said. “We have used 42 percent of that budget.”
The district budgeted $55,508 for gas for heat in the 2011-12 fiscal year and through March 13 had spent $23,409 of that amount. The district spent $73,173 on gas for heat in the 2008-09 fiscal year.
 “I’m going to be talking with our buildings and grounds committee soon about projects we want to set goals for,” Nutter said. “One of our long-term plans was to put the digital controls for heating in the elementary school, which is the same system we have in the high school.
“I think that as long as we budgeted for gas for heat that we stay in that category. The projections have shown we could save an additional 30 percent and that would be a $9,000 savings every year.”
Nutter told the board he will check pricing and determine if the purchase of digital controls would be “doable.”
“It looks like we are going to be probably in that $30,000 mark under budget for gas for heat,” he said. “So if we can invest back in energy savings, it will help us for future budgets.”
Maroon and Gold donations
The board approved multiple donations from the Maroon and Gold Booster Club. The club donated:
• $500 for upgrades and a one-year technical support plan for APEX football software program.
• $770 for new goal post pads at the high school football field. This will allow the old goal post pads to be rotated to the practice field, where the pads are in “very poor condition,” according to Boone Tollefson.
• $273.90 for a new vertical jump machine for use in the weight room. Physical education classes utilize the machine for fitness testing, as do the football, basketball, and track and field teams. The present vertical jump machine can no longer be used.
• $1,410.44 for various weight room equipment and maintenance parts, including several new dumbbells, weight clamps, two new Olympic weight bars, weight lifting instructional DVDs and an update to the weightlifting program software.
 “They also donated $700 for cross country signage out by Rayovac,” Nutter added.
In other action the board:
• approved the appointment of a negotiations committee. Board President James Griswold volunteered to serve on the committee, along with board members Lyle Lang and JoAnn Wiederholt.
“I thought we ought to commence with the bargaining of base wages,” Nutter said. “When we are negotiating as a negotiating team, this is the only thing we are allowed to negotiate.”
Nutter took a moment to explain to the board the nature of base wages.
“So if we talk about base wages, we are talking about if I am a teacher for two years and I leave in May and come back in September, and make more money for showing up based on my experience, that is base wages,” he said. “If I leave after my second year and I’ve engaged in training or I’ve taken college credits or I’ve done anything like that, and we reward that as a district, that’s not considered part of base wages.”
• approved renewing the district’s Internet contract with TDS Telecom.
Nutter explained due to the district’s dependence on Web traffic, the current bandwidth of 10 megs is “maxing out” occasionally.
 “To get the best deal we locked into 60 months,” Nutter said. “What we are looking at is going from 10 megs to 25 megs.
“The amount we agreed to is $1,100 a month, but that is subsidized by e-rate so the dollars to the taxpayers and the district is going to go from $325 a month to $500 a month.”