Fairmont Schools appoint Niss over curriculum

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont School Board on Tuesday approved the employment of current high school principal Kim Niss, as principal of curriculum, instruction and research for grades E-12 for the 2019-20 school year.

Board member Nicole Green explained that several years ago the district had a principal of curriculum, instruction and research but the position was eliminated due to necessary budget cuts.

“Kim Niss is very qualified for this. Her speciality is curriculum and research and development,” Green said.

“I look at this as an investment for our school district, students and community. It’s a great opportunity and she’ll do a great job,” said board member Julie Laue.

With Niss moving to a new position and high school vice principal Andy Traetow relocating to the elementary school next school year to serve as co-principal there, several vacancies were left at the high school. A 14-member interview committee met last weekend to interview five candidates for the co-principal position at the high school.

The board approved the employment of Alex Schmidt and Jake Tietje to serve as co-principals at the Fairmont High School next school year. Both Schmidt and Tietje are past graduates of Fairmont High School.

Schmidt previously served as dean of students at the Fairmont Elementary School and then served as vice principal from 2015-2017 at Black Forest Academy Middle School in Kandern, Germany. Since returning to Fairmont in 2017, Schmidt has been serving as an instructional coach.

Tietje served as Fairmont High School’s dean of students/activities director from 2010-2013. Since 2013 he has served as the high school principal for Windom Area Schools.

“This restructuring is an investment in our district. We have a great district but we can be so much better if we invest and try hard to make some significant innovations to prepare our kids for after high school. This is a huge step forward and I have great confidence that it will yield great results,” said board president, Rufus Rodriguez.

The board made the following approvals of employment:

o Linda Huges as an ELL teacher.

o Melissa Luhmann as a high school english teacher.

o Fiona Edberg as an english teacher.

o Matt Lytle as a special education teacher.

o Josie Sodersten as a reading, financial literacy, gifted and talented teacher.

o Josiah Passe as a high school science teacher.

Moving along to other matters, the board approved a memorandum of understanding for instruction of dual period classes for the 2019-20 school year.

Superintendent Joe Brown explained that it’s important to get this passed now as students are currently registering for classes for next school year.

“We need to get this done now in case an individual high school teacher wants to teach a dual period class. There are some teachers, especially in the vocational wing, that might be looking at teaching for a two hour block of time,” Brown said.

As per the teacher contract, teachers at the high school teach five hours a day with one period of prep and one period of supervision such as study hall, lunch duty, bus duty or other supervision. If a teacher agrees to teach a dual period class by May 17, next school year they will not be assigned any supervision duties.

“This would be a benefit for our staff and students as well,” said board member Julie Laue, explaining that in some of the trade classes it takes so long to get tools out and ready and put away so a two hour class period will give more time for instructional work.

“I think it’s important to trust teachers to know what their schedule should look like,” added board member Nicole Green.

The board approved another memorandum of understanding that will modify the Fine Arts matrix of the extra-curricular salary schedule to include Trapshooting in the master agreement between the district and Education Minnesota Fairmont. Effective for the 2019 trapshooting season, the head coach of the team, Todd Segar, will be placed on step four of the Fine Arts matrix with a stipend of $1,464.

Brown said that this is the eighth season of trapshooting as an activity at the school.

“It’s been a very successful program. About 40 percent of members are female and it’s one of the fastest growing clubs and organizations in the state,” said Brown.