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School board approves incentive pay for principals

Although there was some disagreement about the use and nature of incentive performance pay at a school board meeting Monday, the Morris Area School Board approved incentive performance pay for both district principals.

High school Principal Mike Coquyt received $1,402 and elementary school principal Brad Korn received $1,427 out of a possible $1,900 in incentive performance pay.

Superintendent Scott Monson told the board the incentive performance pay process involved setting focus areas and goals, drafting action plans for each focus area, working on each of the action items, then meeting with Monson to review and evaluate progress.

Both Coquyt and Korn said the process of developing an action plan was helpful over the course of the year.

"It definitely caused you to reflect on where you were at," said Coquyt. "It was always in the back of your mind. ... It did keep you more focused on these goals."

Board member Laura Carrington expressed reservations about the idea of incentive pay, emphasizing the importance of objective measuring tools and stating that goals based on incentive pay should be above and beyond regular job duties.

Board member Brent Fuhrman disagreed with Carrington.

"I believe when [the board] adopted this as a whole we viewed it as setting these goals particular to make yourself better and the school better was not above and beyond; it's part of the job, just doing the job better," said Fuhrman. "I think that's more what these were."

"I just don't like everything dependent on pay," Carrington responded. "I have reservations about that. Self-motivation has to be there."

Despite the disagreement, the board voted unanimously to approve Coquyt and Korn's incentive pay.

Enrollment updates

Although enrollment numbers are still slightly in flux, Monson presented the board with updated numbers for the year and compared current numbers with historical trends.

"We have more students now than we did in 2002 and 2003," said Monson. "I realize it's only the first couple days of school, but we do have more students than we had nine years ago. That's a good thing, especially when you consider that for a couple years we had dropped below 900 students.

According to Monson's charts, Morris' lowest enrollment since 1989-1990 was in 2006-2007 with 893 students. Since then, Morris has grown every year. Monson estimates there will be 987 students enrolled this year.

Monson told the board he will be sitting down with staff to finalize enrollment lists, specifically identifying part time and PSEO students and which students are open-enrolled inside and outside the district. These numbers will likely have an impact when the board does a budget revision in November or December.

"I think we've seen our larger classes graduate," said Monson. "It used to be relatively common to have graduating classes of over 100 students, but I don't think we'll see another one of those for a few years."

One result of increased enrollment in Morris was the addition of a third section in 6th grade. At Monday's meeting, the board approved hiring Amanda Johnson as the new 6th grade teacher. Johnson started work on Thursday, Sept. 15, learning about the school and meeting with the other 6th grade teachers. She began in the classroom on Monday.

Construction on Johnson's new classroom is almost complete. Principal Brad Korn told the board the ceiling, wallpapering and flooring are complete, but they are still working on casework, plumbing and hanging a white board.

Other business

The board approved Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 for public input on the levy limitation. The levy will also be discussed and certified at that meeting. The preliminary levy will be presented at a special meeting on Friday, Sept. 30 at 12 p.m. at the District Office. This meeting is open to the public, but will not include time for public comment on the levy.

Monson presented the board with a draft copy of the 2011-2012 Annual Report on Curriculum, Instruction and Student Achievement (sometimes referred to as the System Accountability Report). This document is prepared every year and is designed to inform parents and community members about the state of the school.

This year's report includes information about strategic planning, district and school goals, the Morris Area Public School Report Card from the Minnesota Department of Education, reflection on goals set for 2010 - 2011, results from state-wide student assessments, district-wide financial information and plans for staff development.

Copies of the report will be available to the public by October 15.