In a statement read by board chair Billie Hill at the March 17 regular school board meeting, “Superintendent John Varner has resigned his employment with Independent School District No. 480, Onamia, effective June 30, 2015. Until that time, he will perform duties on special assignment for the district. We thank Mr. Varner for his many years of service to the district and wish him the best in the future.” The board approved a special assignment agreement for Varner. According to Hill, a work session was held on Thursday, March 20 to discuss options but nothing was decided upon for the board to put to a vote.
After the approval of the special assignment, board member Mary Sam made a motion to have the board “explore opportunities for collaboration with Isle.” The motion was seconded by board member Todd Gross and unanimously passed.
Larry Jallen reported the “I Love To Read” program in the month of February was a huge success and a lot of fun. Jallen said there was a healthy competition among the students.
On March 12, the Onamia Area Early Childhood Coalition held a dinner and meeting and over 100 people attended. There was $1,000 collected in donations from the attendees. Along with the funds raised at the dinner, the board and Jallen wanted to extend a special thanks to Kevin, Chase and Whitney Anderson who donated $2,000 for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. “ A lot of good things are going on with that program,” said Jallen.
According to dean of students, Jim Stott, Onamia High School enrollment is up five students this month for a total of 255. Attendance was at 91.3 percent with ninth grade leading.
The board discussed leasing versus buying school buses. It was decided that buying doesn’t make sense. The district has leases coming to an end, so the district will be starting leases on three new large busses.
A business audit is in process and an updated budget is in the works which will be available at the April meeting.
In other business
The board approved the resignation of Tina Hart, effective March 23, for her positions as Indian education instructional assistant, junior high speech coach and spelling bee coordinator. “Thanks to Tina for all her hard work in the district,” said board member Sam.
The board approved hiring Matt Curry as the junior high golf coach for 2013-14 and Heather Dahl as the junior high track coach.
The retirement of Curtis Hiltbrunner, Mille Lacs Academy special education teacher, was approved, effective June 20.