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Things pick up at Parkview

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GINA R. HEINE
October 20, 2007
— A new chapter has begun in the Parkview School District.

Earlier this year, teacher morale was low as contract negotiations dragged, and the school board, teachers and district administrator often didn’t see eye to eye.


But spirits are up after a contract settlement, and the district’s new leadership is refreshing, said Susan Heffernan, president of the Parkview Education Association.


Interim administrator Patrick Kennedy gave a great speech on the first day of school, she said.


“From there, it’s been a big sigh of relief. Staff has let their guard down. Our morale is definitely up,” she said.


The district parted ways with previous Administrator Gary Reineck in June. Reineck submitted his retirement in May to be effective in two years. But the school board and Reineck agreed to “amicably part ways” because they had different views of the district’s future.


“My insight says it’s been some time since we’ve been a real cohesive organization,” Kennedy said. “That’s my goal. We have to have a main mission. That’s what we’re trying to do.”


His theory is that the district must raise the public’s confidence in the schools before moving on to big projects such as building a new school, which has been talked about for years.


The district has struggled the last several years as more students have chosen to attend schools outside the district under open enrollment. This year’s enrollment is 1,053 students after 77 students went elsewhere and only 26 came to Parkview from other districts.


The district is surveying parents and students about why they leave the district to try to reverse the trend, Kennedy said.


“I think people are excited; I think they’re seeing a vision now,” he said.


Other recent school board projects and improvements:


- Approved an additional teacher to add a section of fifth grade because of high student-to-teacher ratios.


Student counts among the current three sections are at 25 or 26, so adding another section will bring them down to fewer than 20. Because the section is being added while school is in progress, the school asked for volunteers, and parents have been great, Kennedy said.


- Approved additional aide time of 18 hours daily, evenly divided among the three elementary schools. The total cost of the personnel additions is projected at slightly more than $50,000.


- Approved $150,000 to buy about 140 new computers with software. They will replace old equipment.


The money will come out of the district’s fund balance, using money that was set aside when the district sold its buses to First Student a few years ago.


Heffernan said she sees the school board responding to the new leadership.


“They’ve already proven to be a proactive board at the end of last year,” she said, “and they’re continuing to do that by approving things that will make our district more marketable so we can get some of our students back and get more students into our district.”



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