The Mabel-Canton School Board finished final preparations for the upcoming school year at its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 19. The board took action by hiring an interim administrator/dean of students to replace former principal Jeff Nolte, hiring music teacher Mary Breon to lead the music department and discussing district finances.

Administration/dean of students

The board voted unanimously to approve Michelle Weidemann as the schools administer/dean of students. The position was created to replace former principal Jeff Nolte who resigned after accepting a principal position at Zumbrota-Mazeppa High School this summer.

Weideman, the district’s business instructor, will hold the position for one year under the current job title. District Administrator Jennifer Backer said they will be working with Wiedemann and looking at their options over the next year as to whether they will make the position permanent.

 “I am so looking forward to another great year with another fantastic candidate in the office,” Backer told the board. “I think Michelle is going to do a fantastic job…I really want to reinforce to the board and of course to the public that she needs our support too.”

Backer also told the board they will be having discussions as to Wiedemann’s teaching duties. “She still can (teach), and she still really wants to teach some business classes. I think that would be a nice piece for her anyway as she is inter-rimming so she can still have that passion, fire and drive in her teaching — but get up in rolling in the Minnesota system of being a principal. Our hope is to give her two sections of business of some kind…”

Board Director Mark Weidemann, Michelle’s husband, asked if there is a conflict of interest regarding his service on the board and his wife serving an administrative role.

Backer said she will be having formal discussion on the topic and “where we should go….” Backer said she is waiting to hear back from the Minnesota School Board Association to check on regulations in this circumstance.

“She (Michelle) is a high flyer, and there is no doubt she is going to put her time in and be a great instructional leader,” Backer concluded.

Music instructor

The board also unanimously hired Mary Breon as the district’s music instructor though a shared agreement with the Lanesboro School District. Backer explained that the position will be full time between the two schools. At Mabel-Canton, Breon will teach general music at the elementary level and lead the high school choir.

District finances

In the absence of Business Manager Todd Lechtenberg, Backer updated the board on the district current financial states.

Backer explained the district is preparing for their yearly financial audit, which will take place Sept. 8 to 12 and will be presented to the board and the public in November.

“We’re tightening our belts,” Backer said of the district’s current finances. “The district has done a great job (on being efficient).”

“One big thing we have been working on is moving all our payroll, contracts, anything like that online. It is just going to be so much better. We’re going to be more transparent, our employees are going to be able to know their information much quicker than we could ever get them on paper. We’re kind of in a prehistoric age right with the paper/pencil stuff. We want to move into a more cleaner, much more efficient and cheaper way (to do this),” Backer said.

Other items

The board voted to raise the cost of the district’s lunch and breakfast prices. The federal law prompting the increase calls for a standard 10-cent increase in all meal prices. The board also approved receiving a $500 donation from the Salvation Army to be put toward the school’s milk program.

The board also formally accepted the resignations of Principal Nolte and paraprofessional Joyce Graves.

Also approved was the 2014-15 student handbooks. Backer said there are no changes to the handbook at this time as they wait for the new administrator/dean of students comes on board. The board may choose to make modifications early in the year.

Superintendent’s report

Backer said the discussion on school age childcare is moving forward. She said a survey is available to district residents online and will also be available at open house night on Wednesday, Aug. 27.

“Do we want just before school and after services? Do we want a full day service….? What do we want?” Backer said.