By Brett Nachtigall
EDGEMONT – The resignations of a number of key personnel, as part of the meeting’s Consent Agenda, were approved by the Hot Springs School Board this past Monday night, April 8.
Topping the list of resignations was that of current Elementary School Principal John Fitzgerald, who is also serving as the district’s Activities Director this year. His resignation was added to the agenda at the beginning of the meeting after Superintendent Kevin Coles announced that he had just received it, which will be effective at the end of the school year.
After the meeting, Fitzgerald stated that his plans include moving to Texas to be closer to family.
Business Manager Deb Ollerich’s resignation was also accepted, which becomes effective in a couple of weeks, as her last day will be Thursday, April 25. Other classified staff submitting resignations include custodian Toni Beem-Hayes (effective April 18, 2019) and elementary paraprofessional librarian Sunshine Hiatt (effective May 16, 2019).
Certified resignations/terminations that take effect at the end of this school year on May 16, include Special Education Teachers Amy Caron and Neil Hohenthaner.
Extra Duty employment positions of note include the hiring of Tanna White as the new head volleyball coach for next year. White held that same position a few years ago but more recently served as the girls’ basketball head coach, which she resigned from. White will replace Jami Klippenstein who resigned from her head volleyball position earlier this year.
Other coaches submitting their resignations include Jordan Tierney (girls JV basketball coach) and Kaylon Russell (middle school gymnastics coach).
Also during Monday night’s meeting, the board approved Supt. Coles’ recommendation to make up three of the district’s four storm days with staff only.
“We have had four days thus far this year,” Coles stated in his typed recommendation. “As superintendent, I recommend we not make up the days for students but that we do for staff. Teachers are contracted for these days and I recommend we make up three of the fours days, dates/times to be decided by the superintendent after seeking input from building principals.”
It was noted however that bad weather is predicted for this week as well, which could mean additional storm days taken before the end of the year. Coles said that if any more school is missed, the topic will likely come up again next month to determine how to resolve any additional missed class time.
During his Superintendent’s Report, Coles noted that it was recently determined that there is reciprocity for his Superintendent’s Certification from North Dakota, which means he is fully eligible to keep his existing title of Superintendent for his final year under contract next year. Earlier this school year, the board approved changing his title to CEO for the 2019-20 school year, due to his certification expiring after this year. He stated, that since his certification is now fully recognized by South Dakota, the change of title is no longer necessary.
Coles also made mention of the recently passed state law which requires schools to post the words “In God We Trust” in each of its main buildings. He said some schools in the state are fulfilling this new requirement by painting murals, to ordering banners, to simply printing the words out and placing in a frame. He said it will be up to each building’s principal to determine who they will be doing that in the near future.
Other agenda items included:
• A presentation by Fitzgerald regarding the possibility of having some multi-age classrooms in the elementary school. He said nothing would change by next school year, but he said its been done in the past in Hot Springs and that there is significant research that points to its advantages. A number of school board members commented on their own experience with multi-age classrooms, including Nikki Shaw and Mark Walton, who said both of their sons had good experiences with it when it was being implemented previously. Frances Stokes, who is a former Hot Springs Elementary School teacher, said she remembers it having some positives, but also some negatives, and that it would take an experienced teacher to make it work.
• The approval of the Associated School Boards Protective Trust Benefits Fund Participation Agreement for teachers, which includes a 0% increase in rates for health insurance for next year.
• The approval of the 2019-20 School Calendar, which includes some small changes in relation to Faculty Flex Hours and Parent Teacher Conferences.