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Nevis School Board to embark on new student recruitment campaign

Nevis School Board members, encouraged by staff, agreed the time is now to recruit students.

The district saw a significant drop in student numbers this year, 505 compared with 540 a year ago.

"We need to take action to draw students," said Shelly Mahowald, a Title I Reading Recovery teacher in the primary grades.

Activities director Bryan Wormley agreed, noting this is the time of year when parents may be weighing their options. He suggested an open enrollment round-up for students in grades beyond kindergarten.

"Students are leaving this district. The time is now," Mahowald said. "We have no tangible evidence that you're trying to market the school."

The board was reviewing the preliminary 2010-11 budget, with superintendent Steve Rassier reminding them that revenue for the district is based on student enrollment. "Any drop in enrollment will have a significant effect on the ending balance."

"We need to be proactive," board member Marv Vredenburg agreed. He attributed the decline in students to people leaving the area to find jobs.

"Not always," Mahowald said, indicating they may be enrolling children in a neighboring district.

Sherm Anderson, representing the public relations committee suggested a budget be drafted.

After the meeting, Rassier said the Web site will be upgraded, brochures will be updated and made available and newspaper advertising is being considered.

In other action, the board:

n Heard from the parent of an elementary student, Michelle Chase, who expressed concern regarding a proposal to delegate sixth grade teacher Tom Stambaugh as a senior high academics counselor, although the majority of his time would be spent in the classroom.

Sharon Hadrava, whose position as elementary principal was officially eliminated this week as a cost saving measure, would serve as a sixth grade writing instructor (20 percent of her time) and as a Title I teacher (80 percent).

Chase indicated the change would be "complicated and confusing" for students.

Board member Kris Sauser said she'd questioned the proposal as well.

"My son is looking forward to Stambaugh as a teacher," Chase said. "He's done an exceptional job teaching language arts." She said she's spoken to other parents who like the combination of Calvin Gunn and Stambaugh.

"The Title I teaching time concerns me," Janet Golden-Landquist said.

Wendy McGillivray Bjorklund, who currently teaches Title I, will assume the first grade position.

The two full-time Title I positions will be cut to 1.3 positions.

"This was the first year my son's dyslexia was dealt with," Golden-Landquist said of McGillivray Bjorklund. "If it hadn't been for a highly qualified teacher, this wouldn't have happened. He's made strides and I don't want to lose this."

"Sixth graders are being well prepared," Mahowald said. "If it's a well-oiled machine, why dismantle it?" She suggested using Hadrava in areas that need "shoring up."

Rassier emphasized this is not official and the concerns will be taken under advisement. If the budget allows, more funding will be allocated to the Title I program, he said.

n Officially eliminated one physical education position, as had been earlier discussed.

n Approved part-time status for Dana Morris, who teaches special education, for one year.

n Approved a contract with Taylor Publishing for the 2010-11 yearbook. A major feature of Taylor Publishing is the ability to create the yearbook online, Rassier pointed out.

n Reported the district is "on target" for revenue and expenditures and may not have to borrow to make up for the state's delay in funding.

n Approved a summer teaching contract with Katrina Carrier who will teach a world geography class June 7-July 2, four hours per day. Students will have the opportunity to earn .5 credit if they successfully complete the class.

n Approved a contract with Robert Schissel as an alternative learning program instructor for a five-day session held in April. This was for students to recover .25 credits of English.

n Approved an agreement with Julie Kingsley as an extended school year instructor.