Busy school board meeting also sees approval of Q-Comp plan and EM-YME teachers contract.

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The Yellow Medicine East school board approved the contract for Lisa Hansen to be the Bert Raney Elementary school Principal.
Hansen is no stranger to elementary education or the YME school district. She was an elementary teacher for nine years before working at Canby at the elementary school for another seven years. Hansen is currently working at St. Mary’s University as the Education GSOE (Graduate School of Education) Field Specialist.
Hansen’s hiring marks the second administrative hiring this year, as Ryan Luft became the new MS / HS Principal in May. Both will start their positions in early July. Melissa Hesch and Michael Meihak announced that they would be able and willing to help with the transition with the new administrators.

Class sizes
Several parents showed up to voice their concerns over the projected classroom sizes for next year’s fourth and fifth grade classrooms, currently estimated at 30 and 28 students.
In comparison, the first, second and third grades are hovering around a projected 19-student classroom size. While the grade sizes are roughly the same for all of Bert Raney Elementary, the younger grades have three sections instead of two.
BRE Principal Melissa Hesch noted that the fourth and fifth grades typically grow over the summer, as YME incurs students from the Clarkfield Area Charter School, and will probably continue that trend through July and August.
“It might be a shorter discussion if you explain why we would want 30 kids in one classroom,” parent Susan Peterson-Bones said after board member Steve Zumhofe asked if parents would be okay with a multi-aged classroom.
A proposed combined fourth and fifth grade classroom would reduce the class sizes down to 23. Extra staffing is contingent on the Finance Committee, which will be meeting early next week.

Teacher contract
The EM-YME Contract was adopted by the board after months of negotiations.
As per the contract, the 2013-14 salaries will be increased by 1.5 percent and paid retroactively. The 2014-15 salaries will also increase by 1.5 percent, and the matching cap for the 403(b) retirement plan was raised to $25,000. Addition language was included to explain how a teacher will be paid if teaching an online course.

Teacher evaluation
Nicole Boelter presented the new teacher evaluation plan that has been in the works by a special committee for two years.
Following State mandate, the new plan offers a way for teachers to have more responsibility and flexibility to show the administration that they have improved as teachers.
“We tried to take the best pieces of the State plan,” Hesch said. “We wanted to use what can benefit us and not just be an extra thing to do.”
The new model would be 65 percent based on professional practice, including administer evaluations, goals and reflections, as well as a portfolio including a PLC Summative Report, peer review and student feedback. The other 35 percent would be based on student achievement, including the shared district performance goals and student learning objectives.
Boelter noted that the union ratified the evaluation plan,  and 100% of teachers that voted for it voted in approval, leading the school board to approve as well.

Q-comp approved
The board unanimously approved the Q-Comp application, previously approved by the YME staff members.
81 percent of the staff voted in favor of the Q-Comp plan. Non-votes were also counted as “no” votes.
“It isn’t your grandparent’s Q-Comp,” Shelia Koepke said, noting that some dissenters may have been thinking of older, clunkier plans when voting “no.”
Koepke and seven other teachers were on the committee to work on the Q-Comp plan, which will reward faculty and staff for making school-wide student achievement goals, like increased math scores and closing the achievement gap.
However, teachers who fail to meet teaching standards, determined by the newly revamped teacher evaluation process, will not go up in salary steps.
“You need to follow with accountability and rigor to get the extra funding,” Stoeckman said. “There is a risk to it.”
Before voting on the proposal, several board members voiced their approval for the encouragement to improve the quality of education.
“Looks like a pretty good incentive to me” Chairman Grant Velde said.
The total expenditures of $136,692 is awarded as State aid, and will not affect the tax payers. The program will continue to be funded yearly until the State legislatures change Q-comp legislation.
“We might as well take advantage of [the money] while it is there,” Koepke said.
The application also calls for teacher leaders to handle the extra paperwork of PLCs, including six members of the Q-Comp council, 15 PLC facilitators, and two coordinators. Each position will augment the teacher’s salary, also funded through the same State aid pool.

• Scott Soden was approved for the English teacher position in the high school. Soden taught the last three years in the Kenyon-Wanamingo district, but wanted to be closer to his wife’s hometown of Clarkfield.
• Laura Bristle’s resignation in English position was approved, as she was eyeing the newly designed Media Integrationist position. Although recommended for the position by Stoeckman, board members were unwilling to second the motion by Dawn Odegard, preventing a vote or discussion.