It didn’t take long for Waconia Public Schools to name a replacement for Peter Gustafson, the long-time principal at Clearwater Middle School in Waconia who recently announced his upcoming retirement. Shane Clausen, who is currently in his fourth year as the assistant principal at Clearwater, was announced as Gustafson’s successor during the Waconia School Board meeting held on Monday, Feb. 10.
While discussing the announcement with the board, Superintendent Dr. Nancy Rajanen touched on Clausen’s “wonderful background” in education and said one thing that impressed her about Clausen is his dedication to acting as a “community servant” through his roles with Waconia Public Schools.
Prior to joining ISD #110, Clausen worked at Richfield Middle School for three years as a Dean of Students and eight years as a sixth grade classroom teacher and athletic coach of multiple sports.
“I received a Bachelor of Science in Education from St. Could State University in 1998, a Master’s of Science in Teaching and Learning from Winona State University in 2004 and an Education Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership in 2006,” said Clausen, who also served in United States Army Reserve for nine years as a member of the 704th Chemical Company.
Clausen said being a graduate of Richfield High School and having the opportunity to work in the Richfield School District was special to him.
“When I was offered the opportunity to join the Waconia staff, it was a difficult decision to move away from my hometown and more so the families and staff I had worked with for 11 years,” he said. “Looking back, I do not doubt the decision to move as I have had the opportunity to build great relationships with Waconia families and the caring and talented staff of ISD 110. I continue to be impressed with the community support of education and the ‘children first’ mentality of community and educational leaders.”
Clausen said he has been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work alongside and be mentored by Gustafson throughout his time in Waconia.
“He is truly the face of Clearwater and his leadership has made our building the place it is today,” Clausen said. “I am thankful for his guidance on educational leadership as well as his words of wisdom about life in general. Patience, integrity and optimism are his strong character traits I will emulate as I look forward to leading our students and staff into the future.”
Clausen will become principal after Gustafson’s retirement becomes official on June 30, 2014.
As he nears the transition from assistant principal to principal, Clausen plans to start shifting some of his current responsibilities to an incoming assistant principal so he can begin to focus less on the day-to-day workings of the middle school and more on the long range success of Clearwater and the district.
“In conclusion, I am thankful for the continued love and support from my wife, Jessica,” he added. “We feel fortunate to be members of a caring and supportive community that puts children first. We look forward to the wealth of opportunities and experiences this community and our school district will provide for our two children Addison, 2, and Colton, 10 months. I am honored to continue serving our community as the principal of Clearwater Middle School.”
Also during the meeting, Rajanen touched on a report released by Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid on Feb. 10.
The report surveyed 309 public school districts and showed that 15 percent deny lunch to students who pay a reduced price for lunch and more than half deny them a hot lunch when their account has a negative balance. Legal Aid is advocating for state legislation that would expand free lunch to all reduced-price eligible children.
According to Rajanen, the established practice at Waconia Schools is to never let a child go without food. At Waconia, a child who is unable to pay for lunch still receives a deli sandwich, a fruit/vegetable, and milk. According to Legal Aid, the most common alternative meal is a cheese or peanut butter sandwich and milk.
To view the full report, visit mylegalaid.org and click on “About Legal Aid,” “Legal Aid News” and then “Minnesota Lunch Rooms Refuse Hot Lunch to Children.”
In other matters:
• Director of Finance and Operations Todd Swanson reviewed the 2013-14 Revised Budget.
As of June 30, 2013, the budget had a fund balance of $5,942,380 and with $31,379,799 in total revenues and $32,955,151 in total expenditures, the expected fund balance for June 30, 2014 is $4,367,028.
The approximate $1.5 million deficit is related to a planned spend down involving a number of capital improvement projects, such as the high school roof that was replaced this summer. Swanson said the district’s general fund balance remains at a healthy level but they’ll want to watch it going forward to ensure the district can handle both expected and any unexpected costs that may arise in the coming years.
• LeAnn Millender, a fourth grade teacher at Southview, gave a Technology Presentation focusing on the rollout of iPads in the fourth grade at Bayview and Southview this year. She reviewed a number of apps that are popular with the teachers and students, such as Spelling City, Notability, Story Me and others. She also shared examples of collaborative student iMovie projects that have been created this year.
Millender said the iPad use has been incredible and has exceeded all expectations thus far.
• The board approved the 2013-15 contract with the Waconia Prinicipals’ Association. The agreement is a two-year contract effective July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2015. The agreement includes step advancement and a 2 percent increase on the salary schedule for both years of the agreement. Other aspects of the agreement include minor increases to health insurance, retiree health insurance and other accounts.
• Jolene Herington, a teacher/media specialist at Southview and Bayview, announced her plans to retire at the end of the school year. Herington has been teaching for 40 years, the last 36 for Waconia Public Schools. Her plans include moving to Branson, Mo., to enjoy being closer to her mother and a more moderate climate.
• Rajanen noted that district officials did not receive any negative feedback from parents regarding the decision to hold make-up days on President’s Day, Feb. 17, or Friday, March 7. Somewhat ironically, a snowstorm caused school to be two hours late on Feb. 17.
• The board acknowledged several recent donations, including $1,500 by Jim and Kathleen Hall for the Meyer-Hall Technical Scholarship, $1,000 by the Retel Foundation for a high school scholarship, and a saltwater fish tank donated by BE aquaponics.
• As School Board Member Recognition Week was held Feb. 17-21, Rajanen publicly thanked the board members for their service, noting that while the experience can sometimes be a thankless job, their dedication to the district and its students is very much appreciated.
• Kaija Kottke gave a brief presentation on FCCLA. Kottke, who is serving as the State Secretary for FCCLA this year, talked about her personal experience with the organization and touched on recent and upcoming activities for the group, which include efforts to reduce bullying in the district. Thirty-five Waconia students are members of FCCLA, which boasts about 1,500 members state-wide.
• According to the most recent enrollment numbers, the district has 3,688 students, a growth of 129 students over Oct. 1, 2013 and 270 over the same point two years ago.
• The district is applying for a grant that if received, would result in a solar grid being installed on the roof of the high school. The grid would produce electricity for the district and enable some cost savings. Offered through Xcel Energy and the state, the program is the same one that recently awarded funds to the city of Waconia for a solar grid on the roof of the ice arena.
• The board will hold a joint meeting with the Waconia City Council to discuss facilities on Monday, Feb. 24. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the media center at Clearwater Middle School.
Contact Todd Moen at [email protected]