MARSHALL - Superintendent of Schools Klint Willert told the Marshall School board at its regular meeting Monday that he was concerned that the city of Marshall has cut back by one day the time the school resource officer spends at Marshall Public Schools.
"We need to take a look at that because of heightened sensitivity from recent events (the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting)," Willert said.
Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes on Tuesday said the reduction in time the school resource officer spends at Marshall Schools is because of a staffing shift within the Marshall Police Department, not a reduction in the budget for the police department.
Byrnes said the department is currently down 2.5 patrol officers - 1 because of medical issues and 1.5 because of a resignation. He said the move is a temporary one, but couldn't pinpoint exactly how long it will be before the staffing issue is resolved. The resource officer will return to the regular schedule as soon as the department gets at least one position back, Byrnes said.
"Hopefully, it won't be a long period of time," Byrnes said,"but it could be as late as spring" depending on when the officer comes back and if a new hire needs to go through the entire training. "We can't control that."
Board member Jeff Chapman expressed his concern as well over the decrease in time that the school resource officer can spend with Marshall schools.
"I'm concerned because we (the city and the school district) entered into a joint partnership and that's a priority we need to continue," Chapman said. "I think we should set up a meeting between our board and the city. We need to find out what are their priorities, where do they stand?"
In other business, Willert recognized board member Tim Swenson's years of service at his final board meeting. Willert said Swenson underwent an interview and appointment process in 2005 to fill the unexpired term of Pat Verly. Because of Swenson's expanding business with its required travel, he is stepping down from his school board duties.
"It's been a privilege," Swenson said. "I remember what Jeff said, 'It's all about the kids.'"
During Swenson's time in office two referendums were passed and a new high school was built, among other highlights.
Willert also noted that superintendent's assistant La Oeltjenbruns is retiring effective on or about April 10, 2013, after 24 years of service with the district. He said Oeltjenbruns will be hard to replace.
"She carries a great deal of institutional knowledge, so we're looking at retooling her position," Willert said.
Other retooling in the district will take the form of hiring a principal for each elementary school instead of having one go back and forth between Park Side and West Schools as former principal Heidi Critchley did. Critchley resigned from her position in September.
Also new will be the switching of the high school football program from the Southwest Conference, where Marshall is the largest school, to the Wright County conference. Marshall Public Schools will enter into a two-year agreement, covering the 2014 and 2015 seasons, which would be renewable upon mutual agreement.
"If Marshall didn't look for another conference, one of the smaller schools would have looked elsewhere," Willert said.
Willert informed the board that Marshall High School band director Wayne Ivers is among the 50 directors who make a difference, according to the "School Band and Orchestra" magazine December edition. The report acknowledges outstanding directors from each state.