Board of education to get update on new high school project

·4 min read

May 22—MITCHELL — The Mitchell Board of Education will get an update on the proposed new high school building when it convenes for its next meeting.

The meeting is scheduled to take place at 5 p.m. Monday, May 23, in Room 10 at the Mitchell Career & Technical Education Academy.

The proposed new high school, which has been in the planning stages for several years, would replace the current building on Capital Street, which was built in 1962 and is beginning to show its age,

according to officials with the Mitchell School District.

The district has been building a fund over the last several years to go toward the construction of a new building, with a completion of the project currently aimed for 2025. The timeline was accelerated thanks to the availability of federal COVID-19 relief funds that can also be put toward projects like the new proposed new high school.

The district also

initiated the sale of capital outlay bonds

to go toward the construction.

"We have had the high school replacement as a major district goal for a number of years, aiming for its replacement in 2025," Joe Graves, superintendent for the district, writes in his notes for the meeting agenda. "We moved that date up by about two years due to the availability of federal COVID dollars at the present time."

Resources for the project include the sale of those capital outlay bonds for $24,484.988, the capital outlay reserves at $10,000,000 and the federal funds, which comes in at $6,420,852. That comes to a total of $40,905,840 in available funds for the new building.

Graves notes that the sale of the capital outlay bonds was well-timed as it preceded the recent spike in interest rates. The federal COVID-19 funds have deadlines by which they must be spent, and Graves said the dollars will be available for this project by moving forward with the plans now. If the district had waited until 2025 to move ahead with its plans, the availability of the federal funds would have expired.

The update is also expected to include information on the project planning committee and more on the planning process, and a more in-depth update on the project is expected in June.

The board will also consider a change to the MCEA master agreement that would increase paraeducator wages within the district.

Graves said a review of market competitiveness and hiring capabilities showed a growing gap between compensation and the hiring base for district paraeducators, who work directly with students in classrooms and libraries. The district had seen similar issues in the past with its food service and custodial employees, and thus provided differential raises to those job roles.

Graves said the district discussed additional increases for those paraeducators for the 2022-23 school year, with negotiations between the MCEA negotiations committee and the Mitchell Classified Education Association both agreeing to provide an additional $1 per hour to those employees who were employed prior to Jan. 1, 2022. Those hired after Jan. 1 would receive at least $13.75 per hour in 2022-23.

This will bring those increases to $2.25 per hour for paraeducators.

"(That) will go a long way to addressing this issue," wrote Graves, who noted he intends to recommend approval of the change.

The board is expected to consider the following personnel moves:

* The new classified hires of Ashley Hektner, nurse at Mitchell Middle School, $22.50 per hour at 5.5 hours per day, effective 2022-23 school year and Christine Whitledge, payroll manager/benefits specialist, $65,000, effective May 17, 2022.

* The transfer of Kayla Hobach, kitchen manager at Mitchell High School to paradeducator at Mitchell High School, effective 2022-23 school year.

* The resignation of Kim Bruguier, middle school show choir, effective end of 2021-22 school year pending suitable replacement and Jerilyn Button, food service worker, effective May 20, 2022.

* The new Mitchell Technical College hires of Jim Mahoney, summer internship instructor, $5,250; Eric Schramm, summer internship instructor, $1,750; Josh Kranz, summer internship instructor, $1,000; Joel Rassel, summer internship instructor, $2,500; Izaak Goldammer, summer internship instructor, $2,500; Julie Hart Schutte, summer internship instructor, $250; Jason Juhnke, summer internship instructor, $2,000; Matt Moore, summer internship instructor, $3,250; Mike Benjamin, summer internship instructor, $2,750; Chris Degen, summer internship instructor, $2,750 and Lynne Smith, summer internship instructor, $1,250. All hires are effective May 16, 2022.

Also as the meeting, the board is expected to:

* Consider declaring a list of property as surplus.

* Consider the sale of the Mitchell Technical College student-built house #108, located at 604 Doris Drive, Mitchell.

* Consider approval of revisions to the MCEA Master Agreement.

* Consider approval of the high school handbook for the 2022-23 school year.

* Review the 2022-23 K-12 budgets.

* Hear board member reports.

* Hear the superintendent report.

* Hear public commentary.

The meeting is open to the public. The Mitchell Republic will livestream the meeting.