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School board approves bus driver contract

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Morris Area Elementary welcomes new staff for the 2011-2012 school year. They are (seated, left to right) Jessie Pope, Kindergarten; Tracy Beyer, ELL; Killo Marie Dunn, Reading Corps; (back) Holly Carrington, Kindergarten; J.T. Thompson, custodian; and Stacy Erdal, music.2 / 4
Morris Area High welcomes new staff for the 2011-2012 school year. They are (seated, left to right) Nick Milbrant, industrial arts; Nathan Anderson, science/math; Seth Kelly, English; (back) Katie Jones, math; Jenny Ver Steeg, office; Mikayla Netter, English; and Jill Dybdahl, Special Ed.3 / 4
Morris Area Community Education welcomes new staff for the 2011-2012 school year. They are (left to right) Kelsey Wheaton, youth program coordinator; Lorie Hansen, Reading Corps; and Rochelle Biljan, teacher.4 / 4

MORRIS - The Morris School Board had a chance to assess enrollment numbers, meet new staff and approve a new contract at their first meeting of the 2011-2012 school year on Tuesday night.

Although numbers for the first day of school haven't been finalized yet, Superintendent Scott Monson told the board he expects the district to be at around 990 students this year, which is more than last year and more students than anticipated.

"Enrollment continues to fluctuate," Monson said. "We've definitely seen a shift. The elementary is comparably sized to where they were last year. The high school has gone up about a dozen students. We'll continue to track enrollment as we always do."

The meeting opened with new staff introductions, a tradition for the school board meeting scheduled for the first day of school.

New staff at the meeting included Mikayla Netter, high school English and drama teacher; Jeremiah Thompson (JT), elementary custodian; Holly Carrington, part-time kindergarten teacher; Jill Dybdahl, special education; Kelsey Wheaton, community education youth/zone coordinator; and Stacy Erdal, long-term substitute in vocal music.

A full list of new staff members is attached to this article.

The only staff member left to be hired is a third 6th grade teacher. Monson and elementary school Principal Bran Korn said they will be bringing in five candidates this week and hope to have a new teacher in place shortly.

For the time being, all 60 6th grade students remain in two classroom. Once the third teacher is hired, students will be split into three classrooms. Korn said this decision was made to give students the fewest disruptions over the next few weeks.

The school also approved a new contract with the Morris Bus Drivers' Association. The contract includes a 25 cent per route increase for the 2011-2012 school year that is off the normal salary schedule.

Drivers will also have a performance incentive of up to $200 per year based on safety. Additionally, language has been added to the contract to deduct dues from each paycheck, making the association function similarly to other bargaining units.

In total, these changes amount to about a 3 percent increase over two years.

The school board's next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m.