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Board welcomes new principal

Newly hired West Elementary School principal Greg Gentle was introduced to the New Richmond School Board Monday night.

After fielding some scripted and some spontaneous questions from the Board, Gentle was unanimously approved as the new principal amidst applause from the more than 20 people in attendance.

Gentle spent most of his career teaching in Minneapolis in the lower grades. He gained his principal's license and planned to move with his family to western Wisconsin. Three years ago he moved to a farm just outside of Somerset and accepted a position in Woodbury.

Gentle said he has been "waiting for this moment" when he could join the ranks of New Richmond School District administrators.

Morrie Veilleux, district administrator, said Gentle's strong people skills, impeccable references and ability to connect with staff and children helped him land the job.

Gentle will take up his new position on July 1, at a salary of $85,000.

Veilleux said Gentle will become involved in the reorganization of West Elementary immediately.

In other business:

• Re-elected Board members Marilyn Duerst, Chris Skoglund and Greg Gartner took the oath of office to officially begin their three-year terms.

• The Board discussed and approved the concept of moving ahead with adopting five new courses to be taught in the District. There are still some logistical issues to be worked out before the classes will definitely be offered.

The first class would be an online current topics class for high school students. The second is a women's choir at the High School and the third is a biotechnology course at the High School.

The Middle School was given the go ahead to pursue a transitions class for sixth graders to help them acclimate to their new surroundings and a computer literacy class for eighth graders. These classes would be part of the rotating "Encore" courses already offered by the Middle School.

Other curriculum items included the Board's unanimous approval to purchase five sets of new text books. The books are for Middle School history, High School Anatomy, Biotechnology, Chemistry and Forensics Science at a total cost of $55,469.11.

Deb Heyerdahl, director of curriculum and staff development, mentioned that the book companies are giving New Richmond schools approximately $47,000 worth of materials to go with the books.

• The Board heard a presentation by Stu Waller of Neola Company regarding school policy and planning.

Neola proposed to help the District develop and maintain new policies and by-laws for a cost of $14,000, plus $4,000 to put it on a Web site and an annual fee of $1,850 to update the information at least twice a year.

The Board tabled a decision until Waller could answer additional questions regarding Neola's services.

• The Board approved the final two contracts for the new elementary school for a total of $156,790. Norton stated that construction of the elementary school is on schedule.

• The Board approved a total of $8,956,171 in bids for the new high school. According to Jeff Moberg, principal, the budget is under budget by $190,976 at this point.

• The Board agreed to meet at the new elementary site May 7 for a tour before beginning their work session that evening.

• Veilleux reported that negotiations were ongoing with the secretary's union and that he is hoping to have the non-represented employees' contract finalized by July 1. No word on teachers' contracts.

• The Board accepted Dick Forrest's retirement request.

• The Board decided to join the New Richmond Chamber of Commerce.

• The Board discussed reaching out to home-schooled families to invite them back into the public school.

• Moberg announced that the nine valedictorians had been interviewed by KARE-11 News and the shows would be aired April 28 at 5 p.m. and April 29 at 6 or 6:30 p.m. (unless they are bumped for other news).

Moberg also said the High School sent 25 competitors to state forensics and 17 of those medaled.

Of 350 entries in the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, six are selected each year, according to Moberg. This year two students from NRHS were selected.

The FFA Banquet was last week and Moberg mentioned that the New Richmond group is rated one of the top 10 in the state, with a student and a teacher winning fellowships this year.

Finally, Moberg announced that the High School Destination Imagination team competed at the state level and won first place, which means they will be moving on to compete at the globals.

• The Board approved the sale of a corner of the new school site land to an adjacent neighbor to make the boundaries more uniform and provide the neighbor with access to land already in use.