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Final board meeting for Supt. Martinsen

After 14 years, 168 regular board meetings, along with numerous special meetings, public hearings and committee meetings, Hancock Superintendent Jerry Martinsen attended his last school board meeting in Hancock on Monday night. Martinson will be retiring at the end of June. Also in attendance at the meeting was Loren Hacker who will be assuming the superintendent duties on a part-time scale starting July 1.

To commemorate Martinsen’s retirement, current and former board members gathered for a pizza party after the meeting to bid him farewell and to thank him for his years at the Hancock School. Martinsen also thanked the board members, both past and present, stating that he worked with 14 one year contracts, something rare for a superintendent.

During the meeting the board members made a big decision about curriculum next year. The district has been advertising for open positions and receiving very little response. There has been only one applicant for the part-time agriculture position and no applicants for part-time math teacher, the two para-professional positions or the half-time custodian job.

Principal Tim Pahl asked the board to consider an alternative plan. Math teacher Chad Christiansen expressed interest in the Athletic Director position. Pahl suggested hiring a full-time math teacher, split the math classes between Christiansen and the new instructor and allow one hour a day for Christiansen to do the AD job. Christiansen is also just a few classes away from having his physics license and could possibly get a variance to teach this next year.

Christiansen is already teaching with an overload having six full math classes. With a second math instructor some classes could be added for students who struggle with the subject. Pahl added that the extra expense of another full-time teacher would be outweighed by the benefit to students.

Pahl noted that English and social studies are also overloaded for the instructors. Test scores in English have been good but it would be nice to see the  scores in other courses improve. Some other things may need to be done in these areas in the future, possibly as teachers retire.

Another reason for adding the math position is the enrollment increase projected for the next several years. The large elementary classes will be moving into high school and extra staff will be needed.

The board approved hiring a full-time math teacher and approved Christiansen as the athletic director.

There is still a need for an ag instructor and the district will continue to advertise for this. If a qualified teacher can not be found, the ag courses may need to be put on hold for a year. It was noted that the students don’t need ag every year and they can still have a successful FFA group without the ag classes.

Also approved at the meeting was hiring of Kaylene Opdahl as the head volleyball coach and April Smith as a bus driver. A contract with Jill Steiner as the school nurse was also approved.

Teacher evaluation plan

The board was presented with the final draft of a state-mandated teacher evaluation plan. The purpose for the yearly evaluations is to improve student learning through strengthened educator practices

The plan gives points for certain areas such as state testing, student and parent surveys, and administrative observations. The board reviewed the plan and approved it contingent on final approval by the teachers this fall.

The leadership team and board members were thanked for their work on this state mandated plan. It has been a great deal of work but can be used for good things. The board members added that the staff is good but this type of plan can help with improvements.

Other business

• Summer work projects were approved for updates in the 1999 addition classrooms and tarring the grassy area next to the tennis court for additional parking space. Bids are being obtained for painting of the white shed, classrooms and hallway ceilings.

• One fuel bid was received and approved from Hancock Co-op.

• The board approved the renewal of insurance for the school which was presented without final numbers. It was approved contingent on being less than a set amount over last year.

• The school bus and van replacement schedule was reviewed and this year the 2003 Venture van will need to be replaced. The administration will be getting quotes for a new van.