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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • Not all YME board members satisfied with current safety proposals

  • Monday night school board meeting also brought several staffing changes
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    Draft drawings from the architect firm Studio E were presented to the school board Monday night of office and parking lot renovations that emphasized student safety.
    The drafts were just concepts, as nothing as yet been approved.
    “Rumor is that a million dollars have been spent so far on this project – that just isn’t true,” Superintendent Al Stoeckman said.
    The drafts for the school buildings detailed the least intrusive way of making all visitors walk through an office, which would serve as a safety barrier for students and the outside world. However, improved safety through building construction is easier said that done, especially in the case of Bert Raney Elementary.
    “When schools were built [in the past], the office was in the middle of the school for the convenience of staff and students,” Stoeckman said.
    The proposal would move the offices at the BRE to the ECFE and early childhood rooms near the front entrance, much to the dismay of several board members.
    “We were told that was the ideal classroom for [ECFE] originally,” Board member Dawn Odegard said.
    Several members were very vocal in their disapproval for the plans, especially for the parking lot, which they felt would be an expensive solution to the congestion and student safety problems.
    “I’m not for it in any way,” Chairman Grant Velde said.
    “I am absolutely against it,” Board member Steve Rupp said. “I think there are procedural changes that can happen before this [proposal] needs to happen.”
    Rupp pointed out that in a parent survey from YME parents, safety was the second to last concern, with 72% of the 130 respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement that YME was a safe and secure school.
    “The public is telling us ‘focus on academics.’ This is the wrong direction,” Rupp said.
    The board toyed with the idea of cameras and buzzers and the logistics of moving the offices around, but the lack of any cost figures was deemed to be too crucial to the discussion to make any decisions. All plans were tabled for the next meeting.
    Staffing changes
    Several of the posts were filled through the school board’s approval, including the MS/HS Principal Ryan Luft.
    “I spoke with him on the phone a few times already, and he seems really giddy to take the position,” Board member Tim Opdahl said.
    The ECFE/school readiness coordinator/teacher was filled by Emily Balfany, and Andrew Baumgartner was approved to be the new social studies instructor.  Balfany is a YME alumna who has been working in a similar position at RTR. Andrew Baumgartner has been teaching in BOLD for 11 years. Both are interested in coaching.
    Page 2 of 2 - Partially due to attrition and funding concerns, the Spanish paraprofessional position held by Carolyn Runck was terminated. Wanda Josephson, a Bert Raney paraprofessional, had her retirement approved as well.

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