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Morris Area School Board adjusts calendar for end of year

MORRIS – To meet obligations in it’s agreement with the  Morris Area Teachers’ Association, the Morris Area School Board voted on Tuesday to turn Tuesday, June 3 into a teacher work day, making Monday, June 2 the last day of school for district students.

The calendar change is a result of the 2013 – 2014 master agreement with the MTA, which includes decreasing the number of student contact days from 174 to 172.

“Since the contract was not settled until midway through the year, it was difficult to finalize how to make the change, decrease the school year by two student contact days, and add a work day and workshop day,” said Superintendent Scott Monson.

After some discussion, the district and MTA agreed on a compromise for this year: turn one student day before the end of the school year into a half-day workshop and half-day work day.

The district reviewed four possible dates – May 23, May 27, May 30 and June 3. While “each of these options presents a few challenges,” Monson ultimately recommended making Friday, May 30 a non-student day.

Board member Doug Stahman moved to accept Monson’s recommendation, but the board was split – five members voted in favor of giving students May 30 off from school, while five were opposed to the motion.

“It might be a little hard to explain to parents,” said board member Brent Fuhrman. “From the outside looking in people are not going to see the point of having a day off then two more days of school the next week.”

“I think we need to explain to parents that it’s not a day off of school, it’s for the teachers,” responded Stahman.

“I quite frankly don’t like it,” said board member Dick Metzger. “I’d much rather have the last day of school on Monday.”

“As a parent, I’d rather send my kids for two days that week than just one – it’s going to be a heck of a hard day to send them,” said board member Robyn Van Eps.

After the initial motion failed, Fuhrman moved to make June 3 a non-student day. That motion passed 9-1, with only Van Eps voting against it.

Board officially hires interim high school principal

On Tuesday, the board officially approved hiring Dr. Mary Donohue-Stetz of Breckenridge, Minn. as the interim high school principal.

In February, the board authorized Superintendent Scott Monson to hire additional administrative help while Principal Craig Peterson is out on paid administrative leave.

After advertising the position for several weeks, the district received seven applications. Of those seven, only one applicant met the criteria for the position and was interviewed, Monson said in a memo to the board.

Donohue was interviewed on Thursday, March 20, where she met informally with a group of licensed and support staff members at Morris Area High School. Following the meet and greet, Donohue was interviewed by a group of staff members.

Monson preliminarily offered the position to Donohue in late March and she has been on the job since. According to her contract, Donohue will be paid $348.29 per day

Donohue most recently served as the superintendent of the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School District in Walker, Minn. from 2011 to 2013. From 2000 to 2011, Donohue-Stetz worked in the Rothsay Public School System, first as the K-12 principal, then as the PreK-12 superintendent. She currently works as a school consultant on policies and evaluations.

Donohue has a doctorate of philosophy in institutional analysis from North Dakota State University, an educational leadership specialist degree from NDSU, and a master of arts in school administration from the University of Mary in Bismark, N.D.

Board hires half-time counselor

On Tuesday the board approved hiring Andrea Winkels of Burnsville, Minn. as a half time counselor beginning in the 2014 – 2015 school year.

Winkels was one of six candidates interviewed for the position.

Winkels received a bachelor of arts in psychology, human relations with a minor in multicultural education from St. Cloud State University and will receive her masters of science in school counseling in spring 2014 from Minnesota State University Mankato.

Winkels has previous counseling experience as an intern with Jefferson High School in Bloomington, Minn., including work in the Jefferson Career Center. Winkels also interned at Meadowview Elementary School in Farmington, Minn. In total, Winkels has 750 hours of work experience through her internships.

Other business

• The board approved a memorandum of understanding with the Morris Area Teachers’ Association related to the way full time equivalent status is calculated for part-time teachers. The MOU is a result of medication between the district and the MTA. The new calculation will be in place beginning with te 2014 – 2015 school year.