FAIRMONT — Fairmont Area Schools Superintendent Andy Traetow and several school board members issued statements Tuesday night regarding the decision not to renew the contract of one of the high school’s agricultural instructors.
Because the district does not allow a public comment period at school board meetings, none of those present in support of the ag and FFA program spoke at Tuesday’s meeting. However, the public is always welcome to speak at the various committee meetings.
Traetow thanked the students, parents and community members who have supported the Farm Program and FFA in Fairmont area schools.
“As a school district, we remain committed to these programs and the future success of agricultural education at Fairmont Jr./Sr. High school,” said Traetow.
He talked about some of the other vocational and technical education classes and said there will be seven certified instructors in the district in those areas next year.
“Agricultural education will continue to have a place in Fairmont area schools. We are committed to this and ensuring that all of our children have access to a wide variety of lessons in all subjects to meet their interests and future aspirations,” said Traetow.
Board Member Rufus Rodriguez asked if the Agricultural Advisory Committee provided any advice or recommendations. Traetow said he was meeting with committee members on Wednesday evening.
Julie Laue, Board Member, asked how the FFA program and the Fairmont Agricultural Academy compare to programs in surrounding districts.
“When we compare to other schools, our neighbors to the west have more certified agricultural instructors than we do. Their agricultural instructors also teach courses in wood, welding, automotive… in addition to plant and animal science and agricultural business,” said Traetow.
He said that in the future, Fairmont Schools will work to connect these areas with the farming community.
When voting on the resolution, council member Mike Edman explained that each year, at the end of the school year, they must approve the principals’ recommendations regarding non-renewal of non-permanent contracts.
“The school board is responsible for managing the operation of the school. We hire a superintendent and principals to run the school. We don’t run it, but we make sure it runs smoothly and I have tremendous faith and trust in the people we’ve hired to run our district and our buildings,” said Edman.
He added that these people made this recommendation and provided their reasoning and that he saw no reason to doubt it.
Laue added that they were financially responsible and that the law gave them the ability to put teachers on unrequested leave.
On a 5-to-1 vote, with council member Dan Brookens voting no, the council passed the resolution not to renew Cassandra Brown’s contract.
Brown became a second agricultural teacher at the start of the 2021-22 school year. She joined Katie Elder, who has worked as an agricultural teacher in the district since the 2020 school year.
Council also passes a resolution not to renew the internship contracts of teachers Chelsey Jensen and Carrie Rosenberg.
Moving on to other matters, Traetow provided an update on the professional expansion project and estimated that they are about three quarters of the way there with the project. He said the interior walls are painted and the tiling of the walls and toilets are complete, but the tiling of the floor still needs to be done.
Although the project remained on schedule, Traetow said his budget was getting tight as he had a few extra expenses. However, Traetow said he has been in contact with several other districts working on projects and they have encountered similar budgetary issues.
Traetow said once again there are currently no active Covid cases in the district.
“To be sitting here on May 10 to report that we’ve maintained the same consistent learning model all year…that’s been a huge boost,” said Traetow.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the board also heard a presentation from Ideal Energies on a solar rooftop project. Several council members took the opportunity to ask questions, but no action was taken at Tuesday’s meeting.
In addition, the council has accepted the following positions:
— Emily Lubenow, Grade 1 teacher.
— Haley Olson, Grade 3 teacher.
— Mercedes Moeller, kindergarten teacher.
— Reada McConnaughy, math teacher.
— Adam Cartensen, CTE teacher.
— Miles Duffey, English teacher.
— Brooke Schultz, Director of Teaching, Learning and Student Support.
— Stew Murfield and Holly Neusch, cross-country head coaches.
The board accepted the resignations of Michelle Hernes, intervention specialist and Kyle Leeson, math professor.
In other news, the advice:
– Recognized Tom Seifert and Steve Lebert for 25 years of service with the district.
— Recognized retirees Kathie Card, Laurie DeBoer, Cindy Jensen, Cindy Opheim, Julie Ricard and Barb Sandersfeld.
— Accepted the 2022-23 school calendar.