Braham waiting for approval on improvement plan grant application

By Elizabeth Sias

The Braham Area High School’s School Improvement Plan (SIP) grant application has not yet been approved for years two and three of the grant.

During the Braham School Board meeting Monday, Aug. 15, Turnaround Officer Mike Thompson said very few SIP activities have occurred in the past month, largely due to the three-week state shutdown. With the state returning to work in late July, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has begun to approve grant renewal plans for the 19 SIP schools.

The plan for Braham Area High School has not yet been approved. All employees whose salary is paid through the grant remain on layoff status.

Thompson and Superintendent Greg Winter met with MDE staff earlier this month to review the proposed SIP plan for the second and third years of the grant, starting with the 2011-12 school year. At the request of MDE, district staff have begun to rewrite portions of the grant proposal. Once complete, the plan will again be submitted to MDE for approval.

“That’s all we can do,” Thompson said. “We’ve got to keep pushing, we’ve got to keep trying.”

The district is required to add components to the grant revision for years two and three that it did not have in the grant plan for year one, Winter said, adding that four of the 19 schools are awaiting grant approval.

“It’s going to be a tough road here. It’s going to be two to three, if not four weeks, to try to get this thing written and approved,” he said. “I’m looking at a best-case scenario of mid-September for approval, if we ever get it. We might spend a lot of time, a lot of work, a lot of blood, sweat and tears here and never get this grant because there’s a huge amount of hurdles that have been put up in front of us.”


School Board Election

Four people have added their names to the ballot for position of Braham School Board member.

The four-year terms of four school board members — Lowell Luebeck, Daniel Klemz, Craig Hammond and Anthony Cuda — will expire in January. The general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Brian Ramthun, of Grasston, Robert Hughes, of Stanchfield, Angie Flowers, of Braham, and incumbent Anthony Cuda, of Braham, will be on the ballot. The candidates have until Aug. 18 at 5 p.m. to withdraw their name from the ballot.

School District’s Grading Certificate

Carolyn Drude of Ehler’s and Associates was on hand at the school board meeting to present board members with the school district’s grading certificate.

After recalibrating, credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the district’s grade from a rating of Baa1 — “moderate credit risk” — to A1, a grade subject to low credit risk.

“The rating reflects the agency’s recognition that the District’s strong improvement in financial position is due to conservative budgeting and prudent financial management, approval of an operating referendum, practice of saving for anticipated capital projects, and its expectation that the District will maintain stable reserve levels, tax base growth, and a manageable future debt burden,” Drude read from the grading certificate.

In other action, the board:

• Approved the hiring of Krista McNally as high school guidance counselor, Jonelle Klemz as school social worker, Anne Rood as math/reading intervention teacher and Angela Swaggert as kindergarten long-term substitute. Klemz recently completed her master’s degree in social work. Rood graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1997 and has worked in the Braham school district the past few years as a daily and long-term substitute. Swaggert will fill the part-time long-term substitute position for the first quarter of the 2011-12 school year. If kindergarten enrollment necessitates four sections for the school year, the position will become full-time for the first quarter. Swaggert graduated from Augsburg College in 2009 and worked in St. Francis as an intervention and basic skills teacher this past school year.