Willmar School Board Meeting


(April 20, 2007) 9128

School Board Proceedings





Willmar, Minnesota -- March 12, 2007


Chair, Mike Carlson opened the Public Hearing at 5:00 p.m. Steve Renquist and Kathy Schwantes from the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission presented the proposed tax abatement and answered questions from the Board. Northern Factory Sales is seeking a five-year tax abatement from the District totaling approximately $15,374, or just over $3,000 per year on average. The Economic Development Commission is working with the City, County, and School District on this proposal. Northern Factory Sales is a local corporation with over 90 employees and their corporate office is based in Willmar with nearly 40 employees. They acquired the former Somody Supply property in 2006, which more than doubled their square footage, and also increased their property taxes. They have already completed $450,000 of improvement to this new site. The purpose of the proposed abatement is not to abate their entire property tax but to abate the increase in the property tax from their prior property to their current property. In exchange for the tax abatement, they would agree to add five new employees over the next five years. Steve Renquist noted that much stronger growth is expected. The average salary for a Northern Factory Sales employee is in the $40,000 range. There were questions and discussion that followed. The District is required by State statute to levy for the amount of any tax abatements. The School District does not lose any revenue from the abatements. Wayne Lenzmeier asked how the Economic Development Commission determines who qualifies for tax abatements. Steve and Kathy stated that they look for companies that are planning for significant growth. The emphasis is on manufacturing and industrial organizations because they have the most impact on the local economy. They also look at a benchmark that firms provide at least $15,000 of benefit per new job.

Motion by Brad Schmidt, seconded by Wayne Lenzmeier, to close the Public Hearing. Motion carried.

Motion by Brad Schmidt, seconded by Wayne Lenzmeier, to open the School Board meeting following the Public Hearing. Motion carried.


The regular meeting of the Board of Education of Independent School District No. 347 of Willmar, Minnesota, was called to order on Monday, March 12, 2007, at 5:10 p.m., at the Willmar Education and Arts Center, with Chair, Mike Carlson presiding.

Members Present: Mike Carlson, Wayne Lenz-meier, Eric Roberts, Brad Schmidt, Sandi Unger, Dion Warne


Members Absent: Shawn Mueske

Others Present: Kathy Leedom, Superin-tendent; Bob Haines, Director of Business and Finance; Bill Busta, Director of Human Resources; Steve Renquist and Kathy Schwantes, Kandiyohi Coun-ty and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission; Nathan Rohne, Northern Factory Sales; Scott Hisken, Kennedy School Principal; Steve Giroux, Information Technol-ogy Director; Annette Derouin, Director of Nutrition and Food Services

The Board began with the Pledge of Allegiance.

Motion by Dion Warne, seconded by Eric Roberts, to approve the Minutes of the February 25, 2007, Regular Meeting. Motion carried.

Motion by Brad Schmidt, seconded by Sandi Unger, to approve the Agenda. Motion carried.

Motion by Dion Warne, seconded by Brad Schmidt, to approve the Consent Agenda. Motion carried.

Chair, Mike Carlson thanked Peggy Ruch and Jean Svobodny for their many years of service, 34 and 35 years respectfully as both teachers are retiring at the end of the school year.



*Tom Beyer, Head Varsity Wrestling Coach, Willmar Senior High, effective March 12, 2007.

*Nick Thompson, Recreation Coordinator, Willmar Community Education and Recreation, effective March 15, 2007.


*Peggy Ruch, French Teacher, Willmar Senior High, effective June 5, 2007. Retiring after 34 years of service to Willmar Public Schools.

*Jean Svobodny, Elementary Teacher, Kennedy School, effective June 5, 2007. Retiring after 35 years of service to Willmar Public Schools.

Leave of Absence:

*Andrea Banks, Special Needs Para-professional, requesting to change return-to-work date change from April 2, 2007 to March 27, 2007.

* Donna Cairns, ELL Teacher, Kennedy School, part-time leave effective for the 2007-2008 school year.


* Kay Finneman, Guidance Counselor, Willmar Junior High, extend current leave through March 16, 2007.


*Approve the payment of bills and wires, Bremer Bank, check numbers 56805 through 57355, totaling $3,617,288.69 for the month ending February 28, 2007.




TAX ABATEMENT REQUEST FROM NORTHERN FACTORY SALES - Kathy Leedom introduced the Tax Abatement request from Northern Factory Sales. She and Bob Haines have reviewed this request and do not see any technical issues with it and recommend approved.

Member, Dion Warne, introduced the following resolution and moved its adoption:



BE IT RESOLVED, by the Board of Directors (the "Board") of Independent School District 347, Willmar, MN as follows:

WHEREAS, School District 347 supports economic development, the growth of the local population, and the enhancement of student body population and understands that business subsidies are occasionally necessary to affect such growth.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, School District 347 approves the tax abatement as proposed for Northern Factory Sales in a five-year declining schedule.

The motion for the adoption of the foregoing resolution was duly seconded by Brad Schmidt and upon vote being taken thereon:

The following Board members voting aye: Mike Carlson, Eric Roberts, Brad Schmidt, Sandi Unger, Dion Warne

The following board members voting nay: Wayne Lenzmeier

The following Board member absent: Shawn Mueske


Approved on this 12th day of March, 2007.

STATEGIC PLAN UPDATE FROM KENNEDY ELEMENTARY - Kathy Leedom introduced Scott Hisken, Kennedy Elementary School Principal. Scott presented the Strategic Plan Update for Kennedy Elementary. He noted that the mission of Kennedy School is to establish a tradition of excellence that students, parents, and staff maintain and enhance year after year. He review the Board's goals that make up the District's Strategic Plan:

1) To provide a world class education;

2) To improve the lives of students;

3) To ensure achievement for all students;

4) To continue responsible fiscal stewardship; and

5) To enhance school and community relations.

Scott stated that Kennedy is working very hard to provide a world class education. Some of the objectives to support that Districtwide goal are improving the technology integration in the classroom, continuing to move forward with the NCA Accreditation School Improvement Plan, and continuing the reading achievement growth that has been established. Kennedy's staff is working on improving the lives of students by instructing all students in character education which includes responsibility, respect, gratitude, cooperation, caring, and perseverance. They are also working hard to provide improved enrichment opportunities for students before and after school. He mentioned that Kennedy is part of the District K-8 Bullying Prevention Program. To support the Board's goal of ensuring achievement for all students, Kennedy is continually working to improve reading and math achievement. Scott covered a number of areas and focuses that Kennedy is working on to support this goal. He also covered a number of different test score trends and achievement scores. Under the continuing responsible stewardship goal, Scott and the staff at Kennedy will continue to operate within and under the District allocation. Kennedy will continue striving for additional funds through grants and other funding opportunities and promoting energy efficiency. Finally, to enhance school and community relationships, Kennedy is working to continually improve a number of different parent communication areas and also parent and family involvement. After several questions, the Board thanked Scott for his presentation. A copy of the presentation is available by contacting Kennedy School or the District Office.

TECHNOLOGY PLAN OVERVIEW - Steve Giroux, Information Technology Director, presented a draft version of the District's Three-Year Technology Plan for fiscal years 2008 through 2010. This plan is required by the State of Minnesota in order to receive E-Rate funding which the District utilizes for a number of technology related purposes. Steve talked about the District Technology Planning Committee which includes teaching staff, media specialists, District administrative staff, principals, and technology staff. The Technology Committee gets input from each of the District's building site technology committees. The District Technology Planning Committee meets quarterly to discuss technology issues and also to evaluate the progress of meeting the goals of the plan. The ongoing evaluation discussion over the last three years has worked towards updating the District's vision of technology. The committee also shares its work with the Administrative Team and asks for their input. Steve covered a number of areas that support the Technology Plan, how it was prepared, and what it covers. There were questions from the Board and discussion regarding technology and technology staffing issues. The Board thanked Steve for the report. Motion by Wayne Lenzemeier, seconded by Sandi Unger, to approve the Three-Year Technology Plan for fiscal years 2008 thought 2010. Motion carried.

APPROVE RESOLUTION FOR SALE OF LAFAYETTE SCHOOL PROPERTY - Kathy Leedom introduced the topic of the proposed sale of the Lafayette School property. She noted that the District has reached a tentative agreement with First Step Daycare of Willmar, which is presently located across the street from the WEAC building. First Step plans to expand their business. They are offering $130,000. The offer is contingent upon School Board approval and obtaining financing within 60 days. Kathy reviewed a timeline of the Lafayette property, noting that the building was closed in 2001 due to budget reductions following a public hearing. The building was leased from 2003 to 2005 to Shelter House, Inc. One purchase offer was received in the summer of 2006 and the Board responded, but no agreement was reached. The current purchase offer was received in February, 2007 and the Board has responded and a tentative agreement has been reached. Kathy stated that the District can use the proceeds for capital expenditures of District owned buildings assuming that there is no debt on the property being sold. There is no debt outstanding on the Lafayette Property. Overall, the District will expect approximately a $20,000 to $25,000 non-payroll cost savings per year due to not having to maintain the building. Kathy noted that the building did not fit into the District's future plans. Just bringing it up to current standards was cost prohibitive. She very much appreciated that the building will be used by a Child Care Center that serves many of our students.

Member, Dion Warne, introduced the following Resolution and moved its adoption:



WHEREAS, the District owns property located at 1112 Lake Avenue NW, Willmar, MN 56201 that has been determined since 2001 to be no longer needed for educational purposes;

WHEREAS, the legal description of said property is as follows: The whole block numbered one hundred thirty five (135) in the second addition to the Village of Willmar, according to the Plat thereof now on file and of record in the office of the Register of Deeds in and for Kandiyohi County;

WHEREAS, The District negotiated a Purchase Agreement with First Step, Inc. ("the Buyers") for the purchase of the property; and

WHEREAS, the Board has received a copy of the Purchase Agreement and has had the opportunity to review it;

WHEREAS, the Board finds that it is in the best interests of the District to sell the property in accordance with the terms of the Purchase Agreement; and


1. The sale of the above-referenced property to the Buyers pursuant to the proposed Purchase Agreement is approved.

2. District Administration is directed to undertake the necessary steps to close the sale, consistent with the terms of the Purchase Agreement.

Member, Sandi Unger, seconded the foregoing Resolution and upon vote being taken thereon, the following voted in favor thereof: Mike Carlson, Wayne Lenzmeier, Eric Roberts, Brad Schmidt, Sandi Unger, Dion Warne

And the following voted against the same: None

And the following Member(s) were absent: Shawn Mueske

Whereupon said Resolution was declared duly passed and adopted on March 12, 2007.

ADOPT 2007-2008 SCHOOL YEAR CALENDAR - Kathy Leedom presented the proposed 2007-2008 school calendar as designed by the District's Meet and Confer Committee comprised of teachers, administrators, and School Board members. Once again the calendar will have 182 teacher days, 174 days for senior high students, and 172 days for K-8 students. Two early dismissal days to be used for staff development training are included in this calendar. Motion by Wayne Lenzmeier, seconded by Eric Roberts, to approve the 2007-2008 School Year Calendar for Willmar Public Schools that has been recommended by administration and the District's Meet and Confer Committee. Motion carried.

2007-2008 SW/WC SERVICE COOPERATIVE CONTRACTS - Kathy Leedom reviewed the proposed 2007-2008 SW/WC Service Cooperative Contracts. The Board is asked to approve a number of annual contracts that reflect the services the District receives from the SW/WC Service Cooperative. She reviewed the contracts for the following:

1) Service Cooperative Dues;

2) Cooperative Purchasing;

3) Health and Safety Management Assistance;

4) Regional Information Management Center Services;

5) Technology Services;

6) Special Education Services; and

7) Regional Special Education Services.

One contract the District has had in the past was for Environmental/Occupational Health and Safety Management. The contract the Cooperative had with a provider is no longer in existence and will not be available for this school year. The District will secure its own contract and bring that to the Board as a separate action item in the future. There was some discussion and questions. Motion by Eric Roberts, seconded by Sandi Unger, to approve the 2007-2008 SW/WC Service Cooperative Contracts. Motion carried.

FOOD SERVICE MEAL PRICE INCREASES - Annette Derouin, Director of Food and Nutrition Services, presented a Food Service Meal Price Increase recommendation for the 2007-2008 school year. This is only the third time in eight years that the District has raised meal prices. Overall, the District lunch prices remain about 15% less than state averages and equal to or less than local benchmarks. Annette stated that the price increase does not impact students who qualify for free or reduced meals. She noted that lunch prices will increase $.05 a meal for elementary students and $.10 a meal for secondary students. Adult prices will increase by $.10 per meal. Adult lunches, which are not subsidised by state or federal funding, will cost $2.85 next year. The total impact of the proposed action will increase food service revenues by about 1% or $24,000. Bob Haines noted that last year's ending food service fund balance was about $95,000. This recommendation will help the District to reach and maintain a fund balance goal of about one and a half months of annual expenditures or about $243,000 in the next few years. Motion by Dion Warne, seconded by Brad Schmidt, to approve the Food Service meal price increase for 2007-2008. Motion carried.

Eric Roberts left the meeting.

MONTHLY FINANCIAL REPORT - Bob Haines presented the Monthly Financial Report for the month ending February 28, 2007. The report included Checking and Sweep Account Summary, Reconciliation Summary, Cash Flow Projection Report, Investment Report, Year-to-Date Revenues and Expenditures Report, and an Enrollment Report. The report was emailed on March 8, 2007 to Board members, Finance Advisory Committee members, Administrative Team members, and also posted on the District website.

DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS & FINANCE REPORT - Bob Haines shared the fiscal year 2008 original budget development plan with the Board. He stated that the Business Office is currently working on completing the second revision of the fiscal year 2007 budget and beginning preliminary work on next year's budget.

DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES REPORT - Bill Busta stated that the District is in the very early stages leading up to contract negotiations. The District has received its first formal request for negotiations from the Special Needs Paraprofessional group. He reminded the Board that all employment contracts will continue through June 30, 2007. He will update the Board as the District moves towards more formal negotiations. He also noted that the third Labor Management Committee meeting between the District and the Special Needs Paraprofessionals was held recently. The Committee serves as a problem solving, solution finding tool and does not involve contract issues.


*Sandi Unger updated the Board on the recent Curriculum Advisory Committee meeting. Concerns were expressed regarding the technology staffing level at the Senior High.

*Dion Warne updated the Board on the recent Buildings and Grounds Committee meetings. One was held on March 5 to review the large capital projects for the spring and summer of 2007 and the second was held on March 8 to interview architects for the Facilities Assessment and the Community Facilitation Project that will take place this spring, summer, and fall. The Committee of Dion Warne, Mike Carlson, Kathy Leedom, and Bob Haines interviewed five different architectural firms and at this point have narrowed the selection to two firms. A final decision will be made in the near future.


SUPERINTENDENT'S COMMENTS - Kathy Leedom shared an op-ed piece prepared by the Alliance for Student Achievement that has been distributed to many media sources across the State. The article mentioned a number of key education funding issues, and in particular focused on special education funding concerns. Kathy stated that she has sent letters to Senator Gimse and Representative Juhnke related to Special Education funding. She said that the Willmar Public School Foundation is working on their Second Annual Gala Event that will take place on Friday evening, April 20, 2007 at the Senior High School. Sandi Unger and Mary Seifert are co-chairs. Tickets for this event will go on sale in April. Kathy noted that Kindergarten enrollment and registration is on April 2, 2007. The District may be expecting a higher Kindergarten enrollment for 2007-2008. She said that the Board may want to consider making up the two snow days from early February. She would like to hear from board members about this topic before the next Board meeting. Kathy stated that Governor Pawlenty will be in Willmar on March 13, 2007 for a joint Chamber of Commerce and Service Club luncheon. She will be in attendance at that meeting.

OTHER - None

ADJOURN - There being no further business, motion by Brad Schmidt, seconded by Wayne Lenzmeier, to adjourn the meeting. Motion carried.

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