MARSHALL - After spending eight years as an elementary principal within the Marshall Public School District, Heidi Critchley is moving on.
At its regular board meeting Monday at Marshall Middle School, the school board unanimously voted to accept Critchley's resignation, along with that of assistant principal Robert Walker and paraprofessional John Glaser.
"We're regretting that we have a few resignations," Marshall Schools Superintendent Klint Willert said.
Critchley recently accepted a counselor position with Minnesota State Community and Technical College. She will be joining her husband, Tom, and three daughters, who settled into the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton School District before the start of the 2012-13 year. Tom Critchley, a former technology teacher and head boys basketball coach in Marshall, resigned from the district this summer in light of a job offer to teach and coach girls basketball in the D-G-F School District.
Willert pointed out to the board that there was a possibility of hiring someone to take Heidi Critchley's place in the near future. Critchley's last day of service was Wednesday.
"We're looking at an interim," Willert said. "We have somebody in mind right now that has some Marshall connections. We have to do some checking on some licensure components yet. If those all work out, then that person would be put into that position. I'm not prepared to name the person tonight, because I want to validate and verify the licensure information. But certainly information will be forthcoming once we have that bridge crossed."
In the meantime, Willert said staff has pulled together to fill the void.
"We've put a plan in place where Amanda Grinager and myself, along with Jackie Budden, are providing supports within the elementary school," he said. "And we know that we have a Dean of Students along with social worker Sabrina Ulrich who are there on-sight. So we feel like we have a pretty solid group of people to work around whatever issues come up in the short-term."
Michelle Noriega is temporarily serving as the Dean of Students, Willert said, replacing Walker's position at Marshall East Campus Learning Alternative.
"Mr. (Brian) Jones (MHS principal) and I have met on a couple of occasions to talk about that," Willert said. "We feel pretty solid about that position."
Willert also reported that the football conversation has continued. While the school recently weighed its options, choosing to stay in the Southwest Conference over joining the Wright County Conference since it would not allow them to be a full member, Willert said there is still dialog going on between three different conferences.
"It's an ongoing challenge because of numbers," he said. "I recently spoke with the superintendent from Windom and while we have 25 high school seniors on our roster, because of injuries and such, they have 22 students total in grades 10-12. It's just the reality of where things are at today. We need to continue the conversation."
During the public forum, school board candidate Curt Kovash asked Willert to clarify his response that he gave during the Superintendent's Administrative Report. Willert implied that, after a recent meeting with a Minnesota Department of Education representative, it could be an uphill battle to get the flexible learning year (FLY) approved for a second three years.
"Did he indicate why?" Kovash said.
Willert said he thought it had a lot to do with research, much of which he questioned. "It's an economic discussion," he said. "They seem to be taking their research from census data and using it in general form. I do question their methodology."
Ultimately, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius would make the final decision on the renewal of the FLY application. Willert said he preferred to hear from Cassellius firsthand.
Board member Bill Mulso said he also thought some of the reports on the subject were "flawed."
"Look at where we sit," Mulso said. "We're in the southwest corner of Minnesota, and South Dakota and Iowa both start early."
Bruce Lamprecht, director of business services, said there was a 4.94 percent increase in the preliminary levy amount compared to last year. Two reasons, he said, specifically accounted for the uptick.
"In the general fund, we have an increase of about $157,000, and that specifically, is for the anticipated lease agreement we will have with Southwest Minnesota State University for the Marshall Regional Track and Field Complex," Lamprecht said. "The other is in debt service. We did an additional excess levy reduction of $130,000 last year with our levy process and looking at it this year, we're going to need to go with what the Minnesota Department of Education is recommending because our fund balance is probably lower than it should be."
While the initial levy amount showed a 4.94 percent increase, it's possible that the amount could go down. It will not go up, Lamprecht said. Future meetings, including the Truth in Taxation meeting Dec. 3, will shed more light on the actual amount. The final levy increase will be approved at the Dec. 17th meeting, he said.
Lamprecht said any decrease in the levy wouldn't be much, and it would be hard to determine what tax impact it would have.
The board also approved a change in start time for the Oct. 15 meeting. Instead of beginning at the usual time (5:30 p.m.), the meeting will start at 4 p.m.