Herald JournalHerald and Journal, June 24, 2002

Search is on for replacement HLWW school board member

By Lynda Jensen

Health concerns caused Gene Lorentz to tender his resignation immediately, which was announced at the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school board last Monday.

The board began the process of appointing a replacement for Lorentz by ordering an advertisement in the newspaper for two weeks to solicit a new member.

Board Chair Jim Raymond suggested filling the vacancy as quickly as possible, trying to find a candidate by next month's meeting.

However, Board Member John Lideen asked what the hurry was, and indicated that he thought it should be something worth taking time to do, with input from the full board.

Supt. Riley Hoheisel agreed, saying that finding a new board member would normally take two months.

Board member Jim Fowler suggested using the committee process to go through resumes.

It was decided to solicit applications for two weeks in the newspaper.

If more than four applications are received, a committee of two members will narrow down the choice; since a committee of three would constitute a quorum, now that the board is down to six members.

From there, the committee will make recommendations to the board. The full board will then interview the candidates.

Budget dips $131,000 into reserve funds

The board adopted a final budget of $7.4 million for the coming year, which reflected $131,000 less in expected revenue, causing the board to dip into its reserves.

The shortfall stems primarily from less expected income drawn from interest-bearing accounts held by the district, to the tune of about $50,000 less than in the past, Hoheisel said.

Hoheisel also noted that the state plans to delay some payments in order to balance its own budget. This will adversely affect the district's cash flow, since most of the money is usually received within the fiscal year.

Unpredictable enrollment was also a contributing factor to less expected revenue, Hoheisel said.

Should ceremony be exclusive?

During the meeting, strong discussion took place about the graduation ceremony itself in relation to special education students.

Currently, HLWW is the only district in the area that requires each student participating in the ceremony to complete all of the required courses in four years, said MAWSECO Special Education Director Lona Jose.

However, most other districts offer some kind of special ceremony for alternative students, Hoheisel said.

The stricter four-year policy prevents students with mental disabilities from being part of the ceremony, such as students with Down's Syndrome ­ or even those who undergo severe mental stress, such as one example of a student that lost both parents, Jose said.

These students complete all the requirements, and receive a diploma, but are not allowed to take part in the ceremony, she said.

"I think those kids deserve to walk across the stage," Jose said. She cited the importance of the ceremony to young people.

However, Principal Mike Day objected to watering down the requirements in any way to allow students participating in the ceremony.

Keeping the four-year requirement in place encourages students to get done on time, and rewards those who stuck to it, he said. "It's an incentive," he said.

In addition, it is important to keep students with their own class, Day said.

The conversation drew a mixed reaction from the board.

"It means so much to them," Board Member Charles Weber noted about the ceremony.

"It's not a four-year class any more," Raymond said, pointing out that some students transfer in with the fluctuating enrollment and then graduate after knowing the other students only a short time.

Fowler disagreed. "There are consequences for action," he said.

Lideen agreed with Fowler, saying that there are other alternatives that could be sought.

It was decided that Day should come back to the board with options.

Inching forward with architects

The board once again moved forward with a long-term facilities plan to solve the space crunch at the school by interviewing two architects, and continuing the search for a construction management company.

Two Minneapolis companies visited with the board, KKE, Inc., and Smiley, Glotter, and Nyberg.

Both companies appeared well versed with multiple communities situations, helping with bond issues, and handling the Department of Children, Families and Learning.

However, when asked by a board member about how to unite the community over building a school, a KKE representative made it very clear that this is the school board's role. Board members are more intimate with the communities they serve and better equipped to do this, he said.

Both firms cited impressive case samples of schools built in the past.

One design built by KKE featured an energy efficiency model that cut energy bills by 50 percent.

Members also discussed using a construction management company, which would act like a general contractor.

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