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Martinson explains board action at Feb. 24 meeting

During the past year the school district, with the generous support of the community, has been able to significantly upgrade our facilities with the addition of a new school addition and remodeling of the old part of the school.  The passing of a bond issue by the voters of the district along with many hours of planning and oversight by the school board has resulted in an excellent learning facility for our students, one that should serve the district well for many decades to come. My thanks to the voters and board members for bringing this project to fruition and completion.

As the school board continues to plan for the future of the Hancock School District the focus will remain to provide the best facilities, learning  environment and educational programs and services they can within the fiscal constraints of the district. If past practice  is any indicator, the board will analyze, evaluate and scrutinize the current situation and investigate many options to provide solutions for the future needs of the district.


Negotiations between the School Board and the Hancock Education Association have been completed and were approved at the Feb. 24 school board meeting.  The new agreement will be good through June 31, 2015.  This settlement also allowed the board to agree to wage terms for non-teaching staff for the next two years.  Thanks to the negotiators for your time and effort to bring this process to completion.  Negotiating for the school board were Barry Nelson and Tim Schaefer, and for the teachers were Chad Christianson and Amy Dougherty.


The board's attention for the remainder of the year will turn toward the academic and administrative needs of the district.  Some of those decisions will be driven by mandates from the State of Minnesota, others by the needs of the district.  The State mandated a new Principal Evaluation format to be implemented this year, with a new Teacher Evaluation format to be implemented next year.  In light of these requirements, the school board approved a committee to work with the administration to develop evaluation formats that will comply with the requirements established by the State.  Another task of the committee was to recommend an administrative structure for future years that would best facilitate the needs of the district.  This Evaluation/Transition Committee consists of Joel Flaten, Tim Schaefer, Principal Pahl and Superintendent Martinson.  The committee has met almost monthly since September.  Early on the focus was on developing the evaluation formats.  As the requirements of the plans became more clear, it also became clear to the committee that these and other new curricular mandates from the State would require  more administrative involvement in management and oversight than the board expected when they hired Mr. Pahl in 2011.


At the time of Mr. Pahl's hiring, the anticipated administrative structure for 2014 was for Mr. Pahl to become the Superintendent/Principal and to retain a part time Assistant Principal.  The committee had concerns that such a structure would not be in the best interest of the district moving forward.  In the process of developing evaluation plans, it became clear to the committee that this could not effectively be a one year process.  Obviously, evaluations would need to be done annually, but assessing, evaluating and tweaking of the process will need to be an on-going process as well.  In addition, revisions to the strategic plan and other mandates from the state were going to require more administrative attention than anticipated.  To maintain continuity and consistency in format and evaluations it made most sense to retain Mr. Pahl as a full time principal.  Other issues leading to this conclusion were the increase  in students and staff since 2011.  The board first used a Principal/Superintendent combination position in 2005-2006 when the enrollment  was 227. Our enrollment has increased from 258 in 2011 to 306 this year, with projections of 315 and 318 next year.  Thus, due to increased mandates from the State, along with enrollment and staffing increases, the committee felt that a full time principal was a necessity.  The logical approach then was to retain Mr. Pahl in his position.  With the completion of the building project, the committee felt that Mr. Pahl would also be able to take over the Assistant  Principal duties.  Thus the recommendation to cut the Assistant  Principal position.  While Mr. Pahl has always told  the board that he is willing to fill the Superintendent position, the committee feels that the district would be much better served with him as the principal at this time, a decision that Mr. Pahl concurred with. In response to this recommendation from the Evaluation/Transition Committee, the board took action at the Feb. 24 board meeting to approve an administrative structure for 2014-2015 to include one full time Principal (Mr. Pahl), and a part time Superintendent (to be hired).


At the January 29 board meeting the board passed a RESOLUTION DIRECTING THE ADMINISTRATION TO MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR REDUCTIONS IN PROGRAMS AND POSITIONS AND REASONS THEREFOR. In response, the administration analyzed the current curriculum and course offerings.  It was determined that additional technology/computer courses at the secondary level would be beneficial to students.  It was also determined that discontinuing Ag 8 and Ag 1 classes and replacing them with technology classes would be the best  way to incorporate more technology/computer courses into the class schedule.  We are still able to offer two sections of high school Ag courses.  Consequently, at the Feb.  24 school  board  meeting, the administration presented a RESOLUTION DISCONTINUING AND REDUCING EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS AND POSITIONS which included the following language:

That the .25 Assistant Principal position be discontinued for the 2014-2015 school year.

That Ag I and 8th grade Industrial Arts courses  be  discontinued for the 2014-2015 school year.

The resolution was passed by the school board.  In response, the board approved a Resolution of Proposed Unrequested Leave of Absence for Adam Steege due to the discontinuance of the .25 Assistant Principal position and Ag 8 and Ag I courses.


Action taken at the Jan.  29 and Feb.  24 school board meetings were first steps in approving staff faculty and administrative assignments for next year.  The school board must yet approve teacher evaluations and recommendations to rehire for tenured and probationary teachers.  A  final determination on teaching assignments and extra-curricular assignments will likely be made at the May 19 school board meeting.

Please talk to a board member, Principal Pahl or Superintendent Martinson about any concerns or suggestions you may have in regard to meeting the future needs of the Hancock School District.