by Todd Moen
For a second consecutive year, Waconia Public Schools has received the Association of School Business Officials International’s (ASBO) Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting award for having met or exceeded the program’s high standards for financial reporting and accountability. The district’s Business Office was recognized for the achievement during the Waconia School Board meeting on Monday, Sept. 9.
According to a press release regarding the honor, the district was recognized for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending 2012. Recognition through the program can help strengthen a district’s presentation for bond issuance statements and promotes a high level of financial reporting.
After Superintendent Dr. Nancy Rajanen congratulated the office during the meeting, Todd Swanson, Director of Finance and Operations, introduced the members of the Business Office: Amy Hafemann (Accounting Specialist), Lisa Goede (Payroll Specialist), Ann Bohanon (Accounting Clerk) and Darlene Siegle (Business Office Administrative Assistant).
“We’ve been a great team and I appreciate all of your efforts,” Swanson told them during the meeting.
The final numbers for 2012 are not available, but Waconia one of only 25 districts out of the 337 districts statewide to receive the honor in 2011.
Sponsored by VALIC, a top provider of K-12 403(b) retirement plans, the Certificate of Excellence award confirms the school business office’s commitment to financial accountability and transparency.
ASBO is a professional association of more than 5,000 members that provides programs and services to promote the highest standards of school business management practices, professional growth, and the effective use of educational resources. For more information on the award, visit www.asbointl.org/COE.
Also during the meeting, it was announced that Activities Director Dave Kuehn will replace Dr. Judy Nagel as assistant principal at the high school. Nagel left the district in August to take a position in St. Cloud. A search is underway to find a new AD. In the meantime, Kuehn will assume both roles.
Kuehn was interested in the assistant principal position because he saw it as an opportunity to further his educational / administrative career, which spans about three decades. Kuehn spent 21 years in the Crookston District, the first 12 as a teacher and coach. He spent the next three years as the Technology Director and the following six years in the dual role of AD and Dean of Students. In 2006, he started as the AD in Waconia.
Although different titles, Kuehn said the roles of assistant principal at Waconia and Dean of Students in Crookston share many of the same responsibilities. He admitted the switch will be a little bittersweet because he’s been an AD for the past 14 years but nevertheless, he is excited about the opportunity to work more directly with students and teachers in the instructional setting as opposed to after school with extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, etc.
“I’ve had to remind people that I didn’t die … I’m not leaving. I love being a part of District 110 and the Waconia community. I’ll just have different responsibilities,” said Kuehn, who looks forward to broadening his administrative experience, while continuing to work with the great students and staff at Waconia High School, as well as working with the district’s outstanding administrative team, as he steps into his new role.
In other matters:
• As reported in last week’s Patriot, the board approved the teacher’s contract for school years 2013-14 and 2014-15 between the district and the WEA during the meeting. The contract includes increases in salary, health benefits and Step and Lane/Educational Advancements.
According to information supplied by the district, the salary schedule improvement of 1.5 percent in each year of the contract will cost the district an additional $211,841 in 2013-14 and $227,147 in 2014-15.
The district will cover these increases by using additional state funding sources. It received a 1.5 percent increase to the state funding formula per student for both 2013-14 and 2014-15. In comparison to previous years, the salary schedule was increased by 2 percent in 2012-13 and by 1 percent in 2011-12.
In terms of health insurance contributions, those increase by $164,028 (1 percent) in 2013-14 and by $175,170 (1.04 percent) in 2014-15. Step and Lane/Educational Advancements are estimated to be $277,596 (1.7 percent) in 2013-14 and $273,835 (1.6 percent) in 2014-15. Step and Lane Advancements are estimated as they change based on how many teachers retire or resign in a given year and the number that obtain additional higher education.
The total value of the two-year contract represents an approximate 8.3 percent increase over the previous contract, although district officials noted that estimates often provide an inflated value as some teachers will not earn step advancements each year of the contract or lane changes.
• A discussion, which was spirited at times, was held regarding the district’s current policy on extended field trips. Directors Naomi Erickson and Cathy Thom, who serve on the board’s Policy Committee, led the review of the current policy and reported that it is less comprehensive compared to similar policies from many other districts. They recommended that the policy be updated, especially when it comes to international trips, to better aid in the planning of such trips and safeguard the district from liability concerns.
Part of the discussion touched on how changes to the policy might affect an as-of-yet unapproved proposed field trip involving band and choir students taking a Caribbean cruise in the spring.
As indicated by Rajanen, it appears that 2013-14 is something of a transition year when it comes to the field trip policy because it appears that the policy could use some revisions but at the same time, a decision also needs to be reached soon regarding the cruise trip so, if approved, planning for that trip could continue.
The board has asked for additional details on the cruise trip from its organizers and will discuss the trip at an upcoming workshop. The goal appears to be updating the field trip policy in time for the 2014-15 school year so trip organizers will know what information will be required by the policy when future trips are proposed.
• At this time, district enrollment is at 3,699 for the 2013-14 school year. According to Swanson, this is 140 additional students over last year at this time and 281 over the same point two years ago. Enrollment in grades 2, 6, 7 and 12 are all at 300 or more students.
• The 2013 Summer Capital Projects are nearing an end. All of the projects have been completed or substantially completed except for the resurfacing and expansion of the high jump area at Bayview, a project that is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.
• A number of teachers were recognized for achieving Continuing Contract Status, also commonly referred to as “tenure,” for successfully completing a three-year probationary period that included a minimum of three evaluations and the opportunity to work with a mentor.
The teachers are: Megan Palmer, Rebecca Sonnek, Andrea Turnquist, Anna Philp, Kim Harper, Steve Fleck, Erika Leen, Jacob Hockinson, Heather Weniger and Samantha Gaarder.
• MacKenna Trnka, Shawn McHale and Sam Laumann are the new Student Board Representatives.
• Karen Cardinal and Kay Young were acknowledged as the 2013 Teachers of the Year.
• The board will hold a special meeting at Clearwater Middle School at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 23. The board will be approving the preliminary levy at that meeting, a step that must take place before the end of September.
Contact Todd Moen at [email protected]