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Nevis School closing open enrollment

For the first time since open enrollment debuted in Minnesota, Nevis is imposing a moratorium on accepting students from out of the district due to numbers topping 578 in grades K-12 this spring.

Grades five, seven and 11 are still accepting open enrollees, but open enrollment is closed in the remaining grades until Aug. 1, when numbers will be reviewed.

“Come Aug. 1, if there’s room, they are in,” principal John Strom said.

The swelling influx of kindergarteners and first graders drove the decision, in part. Nevis preschool classes have been filled at 40, school secretary Lynne Gustafson explained. Out-of-district preschoolers have not been declined enrollment in Nevis grade school, she said.

Meanwhile, some Nevis district children were attending preschool in Park Rapids or other locations. Heading to grade school in their home district led to the upsurge.

This year, 48 first graders were enrolled in Nevis elementary; enrollment is “capped” at 42.

A student with a sibling who’s open enrolled is currently not turned away, “to the best of our ability,” Strom said.

Open enrollment debuted in 1990 and Nevis School decided to shift toward a two-section school. Numbers have increased almost steadily since the inception. Currently, more than half the student population is open enrolled.

The decision does not affect resident students.

In other action, the board:

n Learned the school has received 12 applications from candidates hoping to fill the superintendent position vacated with Steve Rassier’s resignation.

A few additional people have requested applications, board chair Ed Becker told the board this week. The posting closed Friday.

Becker said groups from the community and school have met to develop a profile for the position. Glenn Chiodo of BKB Consulting will report on the results of these conversations Wednesday, May 7. The board will meet at 6 p.m. with the community group joining the superintendent search discussion at 7 p.m.

Schedules will be set up for candidate interviews at that time.

n Held an executive (closed) session for “preliminary consideration of allegations against an employee” at the conclusion of this week’s meeting.

The meeting concerned Chris Miller, a member of the maintenance staff, Becker said after the meeting. The board and Miller have reached a tentative separation package agreement, Becker reported.

n Learned the Nevis Robotics Team has once again qualified for state competitions, being one of the top 30 teams in the state after regionals.

The state tournament will be held May 16-17 at Williams Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota.

Twenty-two Nevis students and five chaperones are planning to attend.

n Reported a negotiations stalemate continues with non-certified staff (para-professionals, janitors, cooks and high school secretaries).

“The next step might be arbitration,” Becker said.

n Approved a work agreement with school bus drivers. Drivers will receive a $1 increase in wages for the 2013-14 school year and a 50-cent increase in 2014-15.

The hourly pay for regular routes will be $17.32 in 2013-14 and $17.82 in 2014-15. Extracurricular routes will be $15.60 and $16.10, respectively.

n Approved a one-year retirement assistance program for teachers who wish to retire at the conclusion of the school year.

Accepted applicants will receive an amount equal to 45 percent of this year’s teaching salary paid in five equal payments over a five-year period.

The program is an “incentive tool for teacher retirement,” “resulting in long-term financial savings for the district.”

Rassier indicated he was unsure how many teachers may elect to participate.

n Approved a bus barn extension quote of $9,600 from Vredenburg Construction. The longer buses drove the need to expand the garage.

n Briefly discussed paving the school parking lots, with no formal action taken.

Engineers have indicated the main concern will be the poor drainage on Pleasant Street.

Estimated costs are $180,000 for the west parking lot reconstruction and $60,000 for the northeast lot, plus $15,000 in engineering fees.

The school had not yet heard from the city on its storm water requirements, which engineers cautioned could increase the price.