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BEA makes staff cuts for 2020-21

By Staff | Apr 5, 2020

With school closed, the BEA new parking lot has been quite empty lately.

The Blue Earth Area School Board made some cuts in staff during a special meeting on Thursday, April 2. The meeting was conducted by video-teleconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Board chairperson Susan Benz began the meeting by reading four letters submitted by members of the public. Each of the letters were written in support of K-5 social worker Kelly Bleess and K-7 assistant principal Conan Shaffer.

“They have made it so teachers can teach instead of having to discipline students,” one letter stated.

The board then moved on to consider a motion to discontinue the following positions: high school principal, math, science, social studies, English language arts, music, social worker, and first grade positions and to reduce the English Language Learner position to .5 Full Time Equivalent (FTE).

“Will this decrease the course offerings the school will be able to provide?” board member Frankie Bly inquired.

Superintendent Mandy Fletcher addressed the question.

“Yes it will because we will have fewer people teaching,” she said. “Our hope is to be innovative so we find a way to offer programs the students desire.”

The board proceeded to vote and passed the motion.

The board then took up a resolution relating to the termination and nonrenewal of teaching contracts for the following probationary teachers: Conan Shaffer, Christy Duncan, Katie Kaluza, Caitlin Galagan, Noah Anderson and JoAnna Helgeson. The resolution stated the contracts of these teachers would be terminated at the close of the 2019-20 school year.

It was noted the reason the action was being taken was because of the financial conditions of the district.

“Is this list based off of seniority?” board member Susie Rosenau asked.

Fletcher answered in the affirmative.

The board passed the resolution on a 6-1 vote with Frankie Bly voting no.

The final resolution of the evening was to place K-5 social worker Kelly Bleess and high school science teacher Mark Franta on unrequested leave of absence on the grounds of discontinuance of position, lack of pupils and financial limitations.

The resolution was passed unanimously.

Prior to acting on the budget matters, the board first passed a resolution to hold future board meetings by telephone or other electronic means during the COVID-19 pandemic and peacetime emergency.