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Three seats open on the Morris Area School Board

MORRIS, Minn. -- On Tuesday the Morris Area School Board declared three vacancies on the board, two permanently and one temporarily and will be accepting applications for all three positions

Two former Cyrus School Board members -- Jeff Pring and John Smith -- resigned from the board. Pring’s term runs through Dec. 31, 2014. The appointment for Smith’s term will run through Dec. 31, 2014. At that time, a special election will called to elect a permanent board member to fill the rest of the term, through Dec. 31, 2016.

The board also declared a temporary vacancy for the seat currently occupied by Laura Carrington until she is able to return to her position on the board.

Applicants interested in serving on the school board are invited to submit a letter of interest to Superintendent Scott Monson by the end of business on Aug. 9, 2013. Applicants must be residents of either the previous Cyrus or previous Morris Area school districts, although there are no requirements that appointees live in a specific district.

“If someone is interested in any of the vacancies, has resided in the existing consolidated district of 30 days, is 21 years old, and is an eligible voter, they meet the criteria for consideration and I would encourage them to consider applying for any of the vacancies,” said Monson.

The executive members of the board -- Chair Kurt Gartland, Vice Chair Robyn Van Epps, and Secretary/Treasurer Dick Metzger -- will review the applications and make recommendations to the full school board at their meeting in August.

Anyone with questions can contact Monson at 320-589-4840 or

Board approves new agreement with principals

The board approved a two-year agreement with Principals Craig Peterson and Ken Gagner that includes a salary freeze for 2013 - 2014 and a 2.5 percent increase in 2014 - 2015, board chairman Kurt Gartland explained Tuesday.

The contract also increases the number of unused vacation days each principal can “cash in” at the end of the fiscal year and increases the rate for severance pay from five days per year to six days per year.

New for next year is a $100 per month cell phone allowance that will be added to each paycheck beginning in July 2013. Those changes, plus an increase in retirement and healthcare contributions results in a 2.79 percent increase over compensation for 2012 - 2013 despite the salary freeze.

Principals Peterson and Gagner’s salaries for $90,904 for 2013 - 2013 and $93,117 for 2013 - 2014. Both can earn up to $1,900 annual in incentive performance pay.

Other business

● The board authorized hiring Tony Reimers as a full-time Community Education Coordinator-Manager. Reimers has held various positions at Mounds Park Academy since 1996. He has a B.S. in elementary education from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and a master of education in teacher leadership from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Reimers is also a graduate of Chokio-Alberta, and told the hiring committee he is excited about moving back to the area. Reimers will be taking over for long-time director Cindy Perkins who is retiring at the end of the summer.

● Superintendent Scott Monson told the board that the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment scores have been embargoed until Aug. 26. The district has received preliminary results from the tests, but will have to wait to compare the results with other students across the state or to release the data publicly.

“I suppose it’s MDE’s [Minnesota Department of Education] way of getting themselves organized and making sure they verify all the data,” said Monson.

Monson said he expects to present more information on the results in August.

● The board approved a new agreement with the Morris Police Department to hire Officer Anita Liebl as the school resource officer for the 2013 - 2014 school  year at a cost of $21,849 per year.

● The board approved customer agreements with Aesop and VeriTime, paperless programs that will be used by staff to request absences and arrange substitute teachers. The programs will cost about $9,400 the first year and about $7,000 each year after that.

“Right now we have a very time extensive process when somebody is going to be gone,” said Superintendent Scott Monson. “

Morris Area Elementary School Principal Ken Gagner said it can sometimes take half a day for office staff to arrange substitute teachers.

While Monson said he didn’t think the program would save $6,000 each year, it would “create $6,000 worth of time” for staff and teachers to do other projects.