When the doors open Sept. 3, Nevis School will have a new K-12 music teacher and two new educational assistants. The board approved their contracts at Monday night’s school board meeting.

Noelle Kuitunen-Johnson will be the new music teacher.

“Mrs. Johnson comes to us highly recommended from a neighboring district,” Superintendent Gregg Parks said. “She has a master’s degree and an extensive background in elementary music education and is looking forward to challenging our high school students. We’re very fortunate to get her on board. She has also agreed to take on our pep band so we’re pretty excited about that.”

Kuitunen-Johnson will be filling the position held by Beth Grafenstein since 2002. “Ms. Grafenstein has been a valuable member of our staff,” Parks said. “She is an amazing teacher and director who has given tirelessly to our music and drama programs and our school, and we wish her the best upon her new career path.”

The board also approved work agreements with educational assistants David Brame and Mel Buckholtz. Parks said Brame subbed as an educational assistant during the past school year and Buckholtz has many years of experience working in the field of education.

Brame and Buckholtz are filling position previously held by Jody Peabody and Donna Rehkamp, who retired.

The board also approved all of the coach and advisor contracts for the 2019-20 season as well as the second reading of the staff and student/parent handbooks. Alex White is a new assistant volleyball coach and Emily Franck is moving into the junior high volleyball coaching position.

Board member Ed Becker reported teacher negotiations are almost complete.

“We have met on and off with the teaching staff over the past month and a half,” he said. “We have a tentative agreement set and it was voted on by the teachers today to accept it but we’re not quite ready with the formals because there were a couple of things we couldn’t get ready in time for the board meeting. But the basic thing is that there will be a two percent increase each of the next two years and the co-curricular salary schedules will be linked to the salary schedule. Our coaching salaries have stayed the same for a lot of years. Now they will automatically be tied to and go up with what is negotiated.”

The board also approved a contract with Safety First Playground Surfacing that includes removing the remaining pea rock, installing drainage tile and a fabric liner and resurfacing with 12 inches of wood chips at a cost of $22,318. This is phase two of a resurfacing project that started three years ago.

“It got lost a little bit in having to get the gym floors and stormwater project under control,” Parks said. “My recommendation is to use some of the long-term facility maintenance fund to pay for this and finish what we started.”

Principal Brian Michaelson told the board special education staff and administrators had training in the new crisis prevention intervention program “Handle with Care.” He said 80 percent of it is talking a kid who is escalating down to de-escalating, along with how to use holds when needed.

Parks reported staff had a three-hour cultural awareness presentation with George Goggleye. “He has an incredible resume dealing in the Indian education world and provided some excellent insights,” he said.

He reported new windows are all in except for two that are scheduled to be replaced in the near future, roof repairs made and the stormwater project complete except for a few minor finishing touches.

The next board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, in the school media center.