Mabel-Canton School Board has started the preparations needed to hire a new district superintendent and business manager. The discussion on how best to go about replacing Superintendent Mike Moriarty and current business manager Chris Hanson was held at the Tuesday, Nov. 20, meeting. Both are planning to retire at the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30, 2013.

Moriarty led the discussion, explaining the replacement process was a part of the Nov. 12 school board retreat and was carried into the regular board meeting for those members unable to attend.

According to Moriarty, the needs of the district, in regard to the number of days necessary for a part-time replacement, could most likely be met in four to six days per month should the district opt to replace the business manager with a professional firm that would also handle district budgeting for building and management services.

Currently, Moriarty said, a great deal of his eight-day per month schedule is filled with those duties.

One company, SMS, will be present at the December meeting to discuss their proposal for services for the district and answer any questions that the board might have regarding their company's role in filling the business manager's duties.

No additional costs were anticipated for the district should it change to a management company rather than a full-time business manager. Moriarity noted it could be a similar expense, but there may even be a cost savings.

Moriarty informed the board that, in his opinion, the superintendent replacement process should move forward fairly rapidly. He also stated that he could be available as needed to help with the transition.

The possibilities of sharing an administrator with an area district or a part-time hire for superintendent were discussed.

Moriarty also stated that he was more comfortable with a dual supervision role, with a part-time superintendent and full-time principal with additional building management duties assigned as part of that full-time position.

He also recommended that the superintendent position be posted as a four-day-per-month position with the possibility of an additional one to two days per month if needed.

The goal was to post for the position by Dec. 1, with applications accepted until Jan. 15, 2013. The goal would be to interview candidates from the application deadline through Feb. 15, 2013. The next step of presenting the recommended candidates to the board for approval would hopefully be done at the March meeting.

Personnel issues

The board approved the assignment of winter coaches and the hiring of long-term substitute teachers.

For girls' basketball, coaches will be Adam Wilder for varsity; Chelsey Ardinger for B team and assistant varsity coach and Tim Danielson for C team.

Boys' basketball coaches will be Doug Wyffels for varsity; Doug Ward for B team and assistant varsity coach and Karl Urbaniak for C team.

Long-term substitute teachers hired included Tyler Augedahl for first grade and Jessica Buska for band. Both will be covering for teachers going on maternity leave.

The board also approved the resignation of Sandy Benson, a room cleaner, and thanked her for her service to the district. The board approved a temporary fill-in by Ellen Aasum as needed by the custodial department.

Board makes an exception in unpaid leave policy

Lonnie Morken was present at the meeting to request an exception to the one unpaid leave day policy. Morken told the board that he and his family had planned a vacation and he was requesting an additional day, for a total of two unpaid days, be granted to enable him to be gone for the trip. Morken had accumulated most of his required time off, but was two days short of the time needed for the days off requested.

Morken stated that he had turned in his request in September and at that time had realized that the additional day off would be an exception to policy.

The teachers union had also stated that should the board grant Morken's request, it would not change the current policy going forward.

Moriarty said he had investigated the exception history and had found that there had been an exception granted in the past but it had occurred many years ago.

Morken's request for two unpaid days off was granted with the acknowledgement that this is an exception to the established policy.

Playground update

In an update of the installation of the new piece of playground equipment, it was noted that the placement has been completed but fill is needed to level the area. Approval was given for the payment of $7,154 to Midwest Playscapes. It was also noted that several individuals and organizations have donated funds for the project.

The original dirt, which was removed for installation of the equipment had inadvertently been hauled away and additional fill will eventually be needed to make the area level.

Board member Troy Soiney offered to bring a load of dirt when needed to fill in the lowered area in the spring. No finishing will be completed immediately in order to minimize the amount of mud and inevitable problems associated with winter weather.

Approval was also given to the release of the $500 withheld for completion of the stuccoing by Midwest ICF. Moriarty explained that the project was completed as well as could be expected in the area in question and he recommended that the $500 be released.

Other building issues

Several miscellaneous building issues were discussed, including ongoing roof inspections. There has also been the addition of a new sign at the elementary entrance, which is made of a more weather resistant material. There will be a cougar painted on the surface.

It was also noted that the replacement of a shoulder bearing in the 1914 building air handling unit is needed. The unit, which interestingly enough had a 1914 patent, and the bearing had probably been neglected for many years. This was likely due to custodial staff not being informed of the need for attention to the unit.

The air handling unit problem was detected when the unit began making noise and the noise was investigated.

The bearing was then rebuilt at a minimal cost and the unit is reported to be operational once again.

Other reports, business

Principal Jeff Nolte reported that due to the current kindergarten enrollment of 30 students, continuing the current two sections is recommended.

There were three new student enrollments reported in the past four to six weeks.

The 90 Club induction ceremonies was a success, held on Tuesday, Nov. 20, with thanks given by Nolte to the board members in attendance. The PALS group was thanked for providing the refreshments for the event.

Nolte also commented that the winter concerts are right around the corner.

In other business, the board canvassed the results from the 2012 board election. Voters brought back board members Mary Kuhn and Jane Hall and elected Mark Wiedeman to the board.