Darrow to retire

News editor

There will be some new faces at Marion schools in the fall.

USD 408 Board of Education on Monday accepted Bill Darrow’s retirement from teaching middle school science and technology. Darrow began teaching in Marion in 1990, high school Principal Tod Gordon said. They began teaching in Marion at the same time.

Middle school Principal Missy Stubenhofer said Darrow will be difficult to replace. She said he has always been calm and collected, even when others haven’t been.

Board member Jan Helmer, who represents USD 408 on the Technology Excellence in Education Network board, said TEEN has already started the search for a new director. TEEN Director Brandi Hendrix has accepted a job as a school principal in Herington.

TEEN serves Marion, Hillsboro, Peabody-Burns, Centre, and Herington schools. The TEEN office is at Marion High School.

After a 30-minute closed session to discuss personnel and negotiations, the board extended the contracts of administrators by one year.

Special education facilities

Board member Lyle Leppke, who represents USD 408 on the Marion County Special Education Cooperative, reviewed problems with the cooperative’s facilities. Part of the building is heated by a boiler and cooled by a chiller, but the chiller failed last year and the boiler is limping along, he said.

Installing a different heating and cooling system would be preferable to putting in a new boiler and chiller, Leppke said, because the pipes under the concrete floor could be the next problem. But installing a new system would be prohibitively expensive. The latest estimate for seven smaller units was about $700,000, he said.

Paying for that would require a 15-year lease-purchase. Leppke said he didn’t think it would be wise for the districts in MCSEC to commit to a 15-year payment plan. He said he would recommend replacing the boiler and chiller, which might cost about $200,000, and begin making plans for future work.

In other business:

  • Marion County Parents as Teachers Director Lori Soo Hoo gave a presentation about the program. Its curriculum is designed to help children develop basic math and literacy skills before they begin school. USD 408’s contribution for 2013-14 would be about $7,055 if enrollment remains the same relative to other districts in the county. Parents as Teachers currently works with 24 families and 30 children in USD 408. Board President Chris Sprowls said it is money well spent.
  • The middle and high schools will release students at 2:30 p.m. Thursday because of a home forensics meet. Students who take buses home will wait until the usual time to go home.
  • Superintendent Lee Leiker submitted a draft of a schedule for 2013-14. If approved, classes would begin Aug. 14 and end May 23. There would be 178 days of school. The calendar was drafted assuming the contract for teachers will keep the same number of days.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 11.

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