District 88 Board authorizes closing on sale of former middle school

NEW ULM – The District 88 Board of Education on Thursday authorized the closing of the sale of the former middle school on July 2.

Superintendent Jeff Bertrang noted that he and Facilities Director Pat Lang have been working with the upcoming new owner, CENATE, on familiarizing the group with how to handle utility-related matters, whom to call for emergencies, how to handle items that need repair, and many other potential hand-over details.


The Board called a special election to fill two vacancies on the board.

These terms started in January 2013 and expire in January 2017, but are, or will be, temporarily held by appointees.

One of the two seats is held by Christie Dewanz, who replaced Jill Hulke. Hulke was elected to the seat in 2012, but was unable to serve because her election proved invalid. Hulke had run from an address outside the school district.

The other seat was just vacated by Sharon Gieseke, also elected in 2012. Gieseke resigned earlier this month, citing increased commitments as the director of the Minnesota Brain Injury Force. The board will appoint someone to temporarily fill Gieseke’s seat at an upcoming meeting in July.

The board also called a general election to fill three seats under its regular schedule. These terms started in January 2011 and expire in January 2015. The seats are currently held by Board Chairman Duane Winter, Steve Gag and Don Deslauriers.

Candidates for office can choose to run for either a two-year seat, or a four-year seat, but not both, specified Superintendent Jeff Bertrang, in answer to a question by board member Patti Hoffman.

In other business:

The Board approved a health and safety budget for three fiscal years, 2014, 2015 and 2016, as required under state statutes. The respective budgets are $336,695, $185,845 and $151,645.

The larger spending number in 2014 is due to putting in fire doors at the high school, explained Bertrang.

The board also adopted a revised budget for this year and a budget for next year for all funds except the general, which was approved in April.

Budget numbers came in as expected, noted Bertrang. Factors driving changes in the Food Service Fund include a decrease in meals served at the High School (by about 4,400 meals last year) and a state change that says the state will reimburse the district for reduced-priced meals next year, so children receiving them will eat free. Changes in the Community Services Fund reflect higher state allocations for early childhood education programs.

The Board approved a liability insurance contract with EMC Company for $57,231 and a workers compensation insurance contract with EMC Company for $99,571. Rates went up based on workers compensation claims; but, on the flip side, no insurance was factored in for the former middle school, which is about to be sold to a private group, explained Bertrang. As a result, overall, the insurance contract values went down.

The Board also approved a family facilitator contract with Brown County for next year, in the amount of $69,303.

The Board approved a contract with Brown County Public Health for next year for $61,270. The contract covers services provided to non-public schools and pre-school screening help received by the district.

The Board approved a literacy plan mandated by the state; the Jefferson and Washington Elementary School handbooks; a teacher evaluation program and agreement; a bullying prohibition policy; and other documents.

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