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ACGC approves teacher lay-offs

GROVE CITY -- As part of the district's plan to get out of statutory operating debt, the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School Board at its meeting Monday placed six tenured teachers on unrequested leave of absence.

Only one of the six teachers will lose their job in the district next year. The others will have their hours cut or be placed in other positions in the district.

The cuts are part of a required plan to get out of statutory operating debt. The state defines statutory operating debt as having a negative fund balance greater than 2.5 percent of operating expenditures.

An unrequested leave of absence was approved for Coral Ackman, who teaches family and consumer science. That class is being eliminated and so is Ackman's job.

Two assistant principal positions are also being eliminated. The people who currently hold those jobs, Anne Broderius and David Oehrlein, will be reassigned as teachers next year. Two other teachers with less seniority will be bumped from their positions, however.

Three teachers will have their hours reduced. They include Terry Singsank, director of the alternative learning program; Peggy Starz, who teaches the gifted and talented program; and Robin Tanner, who teaches elementary physical education.

Next year the district will be moving fifth- and sixth-graders from the elementary schools in Atwater and Cosmos to the junior high/middle school in Grove City as a cost-saving measure. As a result, there will be a reduced need for elementary physical education classes.

The teachers were sent letters Tuesday informing them of the board action. Superintendent Pamela Kyllingstad said the teachers had been aware of the cuts for a month and a half because the process to make the cuts was initiated in December.

The teachers have the right to request a hearing before a board committee.

The board also discussed when would be the best time to hold another referendum on an operating levy. The board has determined that additional revenue from a new levy is needed to get the district out of statutory operating debt.

Kyllingstad said there are pros and cons to putting the levy question on the general ballot or running a separate election.

With a number of constitutional issues, such as the marriage amendment and funding for natural resources, possibly showing up on the general ballot in November, Kyllingstad said there's concern that the school levy "might get lost in the shuffle" on a crowded ballot.

More information will be gathered before a decision will be made.

In other action the board:

- Voted to cancel school Friday because the school's wrestling team will be going to the state tournament. A school send-off will be held at 12:20 p.m. today in the high school parking lot.

- Agreed to get more information before taking action to repair the roof at ACGC South Elementary in Cosmos. The roof "leaks like a sieve," Kyllingstad said. Bids ranged from a low of $475,890 to a high of $532,784. Action will be taken at the March 13 meeting.

- Was informed that elementary principal John Hass was the winner of two Minnesota Science Museum programs for ACGC students. One prize is an all-expenses paid, overnight stay at the Science Museum for 80 students. The fourth- and fifth-grade students from ACGC South and the fifth-grade students from ACGC North will spend a night with the dinosaurs. The other prize was a Science Museum speaker, who was in the district Monday talking to students about solids, gases and liquids.

- Voted to keep student activity fees and admission prices to school events for the 2006-07 school year the same as they are now.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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