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Round Lake-Brewster School rejects 4-day work week

BREWSTER -- In a 7-4 roll call vote, the Round Lake-Brewster School Board rejected the option of moving to a four-day school week during its Monday night meeting in Brewster. The action came shortly after board members accepted the resignation of Superintendent John Cselovszki, who has accepted a position as superintendent in Sleepy Eye.

The option of a four-day school week was first broached to residents of the district on March 30, and was followed with two additional public meetings on the matter.

Monday's vote saw a split between members of the board representing Round Lake, and those representing Brewster. Four of the Round Lake representatives voted for the measure, with one opposed, while all six of the Brewster representatives voted against the four-day week.

In casting her yes vote, Jenny Ellenbecker said she liked the idea of cost-saving, as well as increased instructional time, while several of those who cast "no" votes said they received significantly more feedback from district residents against the move to a four-day week.

"The cuts weren't as great as we thought we were going to save -- we started with $50,000 and it was down to way less than that," said Kathy Schmitz. "The opposition we got from the community didn't seem to warrant it."

Bob Bohn said he liked the idea of a four-day school week, but also voted based on what he heard from constituents.

"I voted against it because of the lack of community support," Bohn said. "We cannot make this work without the community support here in Brewster. Yes, I had some positive feedback. Do I think this is a good idea? Yes."

After the board rejected the four-day school week, the first staff reduction was discussed -- cutting the full-time music position in Round Lake to a half-time position. By making the request, Cselovszki suggested terminating the non-tenured position and hiring a .5-time position for the fall.

The request was met with opposition by more than half of the board members, who said they did not want to see any cuts to the music program.

With that consensus, Brian Johnson, who was among about 20 residents in attendance at the meeting, asked board members who voted against the four-day school week to explain what they thought they would cut that would equal the $50,000 savings.

"We're just going to have to keep looking at these other options and decide what we can do," said board chairman Jerry Luinenburg.

Cselovszki later presented quotes for the selection of a new, cheaper auditing firm. That request was tabled by board members, who wanted to make sure the quotes met the same standards as they currently receive from their auditing firm. The matter will be addressed at a special board meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday in Round Lake.

"You have to start saving some money somewhere," said Cselovszki. "So far you've turned down the four-day week and a cut in the music program. I'm just trying to bring you some recommendations to save money."

One idea that grew out of looking at the four-day school week was pairing with Southwest Star Concept in sports. Board member Pam Wendland said there would be about 50 girls interested in volleyball, and basketball numbers in each school are good into the junior high grades.

Luinenburg said they considered maybe doing a phase-in for sports pairing but realized that "probably wouldn't work."

Any possible pairing could not be done for the next school year, as the Red Rock Conference schedule has already been set.

In other action, the board:

- Received bids from two different consulting firms willing to assist the school district with the search for a new superintendent. Board members tabled a decision until their special board meeting next Monday.

- Appointed three representatives from each board to serve on the hiring committee for the superintendent. Committee members include Bob Bohn, Tracey Haberman, Dave Hartzler, Ronda Sammons, Jenny Ellenbecker and Pam Wendland.

- Was presented with information from Cselovszki about bussing for both Round Lake and Brewster. With the cost of school busses expected to rise by $10,000 within the next year, he urged both Round Lake and Brewster to consider replacing a bus in their fleet yet this year. The individual boards had planned to discuss the purchases following the joint board meeting.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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