Jeff Rein
Jeff Rein
The Mabel-Canton School Board heard from two interested candidates who were interested in filling the vacant school board director position left by David Swenson when he resigned from the board in October. Mabel resident Jeff Rein and Canton resident Kristie Davis were the two candidates who appeared before the board.

Since the vacancy was created in mid-term due to a resignation, the board has the authority to appoint a board director to fill the remainder of the term. The term will be up for general election in November 2014.

Both Rein and Davis answered several questions from School Board Chair Mary Kuhn. Davis said she would bring an "open mind" to the board. "You are going to get different sides to everything and I think if you have an open mind you can adjust things a bit," she said.

Rein said he would bring a youthful spirit to the board. "I just think that when you have your core people who have been on the board a number of years, it is always good to bring in new, young people," he added. "I just think it is good to have a good variety of people on the board."

When asked why they wanted to be a school board director, Rein mentioned his concern for his two children who attend Mabel-Canton along with his father, who also served on a school board.

"I want to do everything I can to help the school, help not only my kid and everybody else's to make it the best school possible," Rein stated. "(Which is) kinda how my dad did it for us."

Davis said, "I think maintain a balance of everything. Making sure the kids are happy, the parents are happy, the school is happy and progressing and turning out good kids."

The two candidates left the school library as the school board discussed the appointment. Board members noted both candidates had children in the schools, and had the skills and desire to serve on the board as they wrestled with their decision.

Superintendent Jennifer Backer told the board to look at their decision as if they were headed to the polls to elect a school board director. She asked them to ponder, "Who is workable, who can you sit by at a meeting, who can you call at night and say 'here is this issue,' someone who is approachable (and) confidential...but also has that general sense of vision and a future for the district?"

By closed ballot, five board members voted to have Rein fill the position and one vote was cast for Davis. A motion was then made to appoint Ryan to the position, which passed unanimously.

Rein was then sworn into as a school board director on Tuesday night.

Consent agenda

In the consent agenda, the board approved athletic coaches for the winter and spring sports seasons and approved school board directors to attend the MSBA (Minnesota School Board Association) Leadership Conference in January.

The board also acknowledged several donations by the Canton Legion, Mabel Legion and Mabel Lions to be used toward the purchase of basketball uniforms and the donation of 30 Dell desktop computers from the React Center, valued at $10,500.

District bills

Backer gave board members an update on the district's current finances and the district's audit, which will be presented during the board's meeting on Dec. 17.

She said the district is "right on track" where it is supposed to be in terms of auditing - but there is an issue with deficit spending between $200,000 and 400,000 during last year's fiscal year.

Backer said the board would hear more details as to where that money went next month. "It is a negotiations year, so it is a little alarming because we do we want to pay our folks...but we also need to be very responsible with our constituents' dollars."

World's Best Workforce

Backer also brought the 'Worlds Best Workforce' legislation to the board for approval. World's Best Workforce was legislation that was passed earlier this year by the Minnesota Legislature.

According to the information presented to the board, the legislation brings new investments to public education, starting with preschool scholarships and funding for all-day kindergarten programs. The long-range goals of the bill are to increase high school graduation rates to 100 percent and have all students reading proficiently by the third grade.

"What this is saying is that we will do everything in our power to not only look at our test and scoring data, but we are looking at our highly qualified professional staff and how we can place them in positions of strength," she said. "We are going to be looking at where we are financially going to put our moneys to address the concerns of curriculum and instruction."

With the legislation, Backer said the district will be forming a leadership committee to look at all the date that the legislation has laid out. The board unanimously approved enacting the World's Best Workforce legislation.

Principal report

Principal Jeff Nolte updated the board on the teaching staff's development day that took place on Oct. 21 at Kingsland High School. The main speaker was educational consultant, Dr. Anthony Muhammad.

"I think our staff took some things away from his message; he was pretty dynamic," said Nolte.

November is also a month where the district does a portion of the 10-year staff evaluations. Nolte said he and several staff recently attended training on putting together a teacher evaluation plan. He said the state requires either districts evaluate teachers using the state's default plan or a more local plan.

Nolte added they will likely be adding a "peer review" component to the evaluation, where a part of the review is be done by a fellow teacher.

"I think all of us would agree that getting into other classrooms and taking feedback from more people in our teaching practice is a good thing," he said. "It is just going to make us better teachers, so we look forward to what that will do for our teachers in our district."

Superintendent report

Backer announced that enrollment was holding steady at 256 students. Backer also reported the district performed well in the last mock OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) assessment, which was conducted last month.

"We had glowing reviews, so when you run into our custodial staff, please thank them for the hard work they do," she urged the board members.

Backer also updated the board on a revised rotation plan in which the district will plan to purchase new uniforms for sports and other extra-curricular activities.