Funds available to help parents

FAIRMONT – The Fairmont School Board took care of housekeeping issues Tuesday that wrapped up summer projects and focused on the impending new term.

Michelle Rosen, K-2 principal, reported that enrollment for the 2014-15 early childhood preschool program is almost complete. Only a couple of spots remain in the class for 3-year-olds and the afternoon sessions for 4- and 5-year olds.

Last year, the program received $33,000 from the state for scholarships, and the program will again have those funds available to assist parents.

Superintendent Joe Brown praised Rosen for developing and expanding the early childhood program.

“Early childhood learning, from birth to kindergarten, is crucial,” he said. “Research shows that’s where it counts.”

Brown reported that elementary school enrollment stands at 908, with an average of about 135 students in grades K-5. The sixth-grade population is 100. This class was the first group of students born post-9/11, and nationally is considerably smaller than other classes.

Brown predicted enrollment at the high school would be more than 800, but no firm numbers are available yet.

Alex Schmidt, dean of students at the elementary school, explained the new bullying prohibition resulting from the last legislative session. Diane Gerhardt, board president, designed a trifold brochure with concise information about the policy that will be available to staff students and parents.

“For something so new, I feel confident in handing this to a parent,” Schmidt said of the pamphlet. “It’s all in there. It’s very well done.”

In other business, new employees approved included Ann Gibeau and Christina Hainy as a part-time early childhood teachers; Shannon Reichel as a special education teacher; Terry Wolfe, Tara Thompson-Thedens, Kathy Heuer and Sara Marquardt as Title I aides; and Angel Moeller as an early childhood aide.

In another matter, Brown noted that a Minnesota State Trooper will conduct a special safety program at 1 p.m. today for all district employees who drive school-owned vehicles to transport students. All potential drivers must complete the program.

“It’s not just a liability issue. It’s against the law,” Brown said. “As of today, no one is allowed to drive unless they go through this training.”

The mandatory class was prompted by an existing law that was not communicated well.