District 518 approves additional hirings

WORTHINGTON -- A plan to restructure the kindergarten program at Prairie Elementary got a boost Tuesday night from the District 518 Board of Education.

WORTHINGTON -- A plan to restructure the kindergarten program at Prairie Elementary got a boost Tuesday night from the District 518 Board of Education.

The board voted unanimously to approve the hiring of a half-time Title I teacher and an additional full-time paraprofessional to staff the district's kindergarten program. The program has already registered 170 students for this fall -- 10 more than projected, according to Superintendent John Landgaard -- and there are three weeks of enrollment still remaining.

The additional hirings will help reduce the class sizes within kindergarten sections and result in the creation of two ESL kindergarten classes. Students in the classes would be brought together for special programs and other activities outside of the core curriculum, Landgaard indicated.

"We've discussed this with the kindergarten teachers, and they believe the positives outweigh the negatives that could occur," Landgaard said. "I feel pretty comfortable in saying we should go to an ESL classroom and not just one, but two."

Money for an additional paraprofessional would come from the general fund, an issue that caused some hesitation. Board member Steve Schnieder originally advocated approval of the half-time Title I teacher and holding off on the additional hiring.


"I'd like to revisit the paraprofessional at a later time," Schnieder said. "The referendum hasn't passed yet, and I'm a little cautious about adding more expenses at this time."

Landgaard later said that by enrolling 10 more students thus far than planned, an additional $50,000 in revenues had been generated. The vote to add both the half-time teacher and the paraprofessional then passed without dissent.

"I don't think you want to start the school year short-handed, because that's when you need help right away," board member Linden Olson said.

If the enrollment number shrinks, Landgaard added, the paraprofessional position could be eliminated quickly.

In other business Tuesday, the board:

- Approved a lease/purchase agreement for the Prairie Lakes building with Grace Community Church.

Terms of the lease have rental of the facility beginning Sept. 1 and continuing through Aug. 31, 2007, with an option to go through the end of December as long as there is intent to purchase the site. Rent will be $1,400 per month, and all utilities will be the responsibility of the church.

Maintenance costs for the facility will be up to the church, while "large cost items" in excess of $200 will be the district's responsibility. The church would have to carry its own insurance.


A purchase price of $175,000 has been set, and terms for a right of first refusal have been arranged.

- Approved a contract with Sioux Valley Clinic for nursing services.

"Our school nurse resigned her position earlier in the summer," Director of Management Services Dave Skog explained. "We advertised for the position, and the applicant pool was not what we had hoped."

The district will pay $27 per hour for a full-time nurse, with Skog adding that school nurse availability would go unchanged from what has previously been in place.

- Approved an AS400 computer services agreement with Nobles County, which Skog said would save the district from a significant expense for a new machine.

"I applaud their (administration) efforts to share services and save us a little money," Olson said.

Ryan McGaughey arrived in Worthington in April 2001 as sports editor of The Daily Globe, and first joined Forum Communications Co. upon his hiring as a sports reporter at The Dickinson (North Dakota) Press in November 1998. McGaughey became news editor in Worthington in November 2002 and editor in August 2006.
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