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Among cuts, board protects German in Farmington schools

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What do you do with a teacher when she doesn't have a class to teach?

It's a question the Farmington School District will have to answer following a pair of votes that put three teachers on what the district calls an unrequested leave of absence but preserved the position of Farmington High School German teacher Cheryl Wason.

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None of the teachers placed on leave will lose their job, but Farmington High School physical education teacher Chad Olson and FHS world language teacher Kimberly Radloff Tekippe will each have their hours reduced by the equivalent of .17 of a full-time position. Boeckman Middle School family and consumer science teacher Paige Guist will have her hours reduced by .13 of a full-time position.

The same agenda item that included those reductions also included a reduction of Wason's position by roughly four-fifths of a full time position, but board member Tim Burke asked that Wason be separated from the other teachers when the board voted, and the motion to put her on leave failed, 3-2. Board chair Tera Lee and board member Melissa Sauser voted in favor of the leave. Board members Tim Burke, Brian Treakle and Julie Singewald opposed it.

Wason's position has been a point of contention for more than a year, as declining enrollment in German classes led to talks of eliminating the class altogether. As recently as April, superintendent Jay Haugen presented a plan that would move all German classes to the high school and look for ways to promote the classes in an effort to draw bigger enrollment. So far, though, that doesn't seem to have made a significant difference. Human resources director Maryanne Thomas told board members last week that there are only enough students registered for two trimesters of German II next year.

Wason was already a half-time employee. Now it will be up to FHS principal Ben Kusch to figure out how to use the extra time she will have on her hands.

District communication specialist Jim Skelly said the goal as discussed in a staff meeting last week will be to find ways to put Wason to work that are not simply monitoring a study hall.

"It seemed to be more related to innovation for language instruction," Skelly said. "That her work would be aligned with her vocation."

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Michelle Leonard
Michelle Leonard started covering the Farmington community in June, 1994. Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the Farmington American Legion Auxiliary Unit 189, and acts as the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 
(651) 460-6606
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