The Perham-Dent School Board has begun preparations for next school year’s staffing and scheduling needs.

On the staffing side, at a recent board meeting, the contracts of seven probationary teachers were terminated. In a conversation with the Focus, Superintendent Mitch Anderson said most of these terminations were a formality based on licensing requirements and state rules.

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He explained that sometimes, applicants do not have all of the certification required for an open position. In these cases, the district is allowed to use alternative criteria to hire someone for that year.

For example, Anderson said some specialty instructors, such as speech language pathologists, are in short supply throughout the state. When needed, a speech language pathology assistant can be hired to work under the supervision of another fully licensed pathologist.

“We have to open these positions each year and see if someone with higher certification applies,” Anderson said. “Most likely, a lot of them (the probationary teachers who were let go) will be hired back.”

In a related move, choir director Kevin Kosiak filed a request to transfer to the school district’s band program. No board action was required to approve this decision, since Kosiak has seniority within the music staff and the right to request a change is in the teachers’ master agreement.

“In the conversations that Kevin and I have had, I’ve been sold, so to speak, on how passionate and motivated he is to get his hands on this,” said Prairie Wind Middle School Principal Scott Bjerke of Kosiak. “He’s ready, willing and very excited. He’s already been in my office with a bunch of brainstorm lists on how he wants to do things. It’s very exciting to hear that from him.”

The seventh through 12th grade choir director position has been posted and applications are being accepted, Anderson told the Focus.

Board members also approved the 2014-2015 school calendar, with 173 student days.

“It doesn’t allow a lot of creativity,” said Anderson of the calendar creating process.

 The first day of class will be on Sept. 2, and the last scheduled student day will be May 27, 2015. Three potential makeup days are included in the schedule in case of inclement weather.

“This one was a little easier than a year from now,” he added, referring to the 2015-2016 school year.

That year, unless the state creates an exception to its rule, public schools will have to start after Labor Day, on Sept. 7.

In other news, the board also approved expanding the 1:1 iPad ratio that exists at the high school into the seventh and eighth grades at Prairie Wind Middle School, beginning next school year. The iPad carts currently being used by those grades will go to the fifth and sixth grade classes.