Bergman will head early learning center

STRATFORD – Catherine Bergman, director of Hamilton County S.E.E.D. for almost twenty years, will be the new director of the Early Learning Center at the Stratford Community School, following action by the school board there.

The action came based on the recommendation of Stratford superintendent Sarah Binder. ELC director Chelsea Heeren has submitted her resignation, which was accepted. There were five applicants for the position, and Binder told the board that Bergman was the best candidate. “Catherine has a B.A. in early childhood education,” Binder told the board, adding that Bergman “is very, very familiar with the program and is a long-time community member.”

“I know the program will benefit from the continuity and strength Catherine will bring,” Binder stated before the board approved her recommendation to hire Bergman, who will start her new duties on August 1. Heeren has accepted a position with the preschool program at NEH.

An adjustment in the rates for the Early Childhood Center was another matter up for discussion at Wednesday’s meeting. Based on budget figures, Binder recommended increasing rates from $3.00 per hour to $3.25 starting with this school year. The drop-in rate, which has not seen an increase in two years, would increase 50 cents per hour.

“At this time last year we made some adjustments in rates because these rates were not covering the program costs,” Binder said. Adopting her recommendation for increases would mean that “revenue closely matches expenditures now.”

Board members weren’t so quick to agree with her recommendation, though. Board member April Schwering made a motion to adopt the recommendation for increases, but there was no second. “I’m afraid we’ll drive people away with this increase,” Eric McGlynn stated. There was also concern that patrons would wonder if the increase was helping to we’re pay for the addition to the ELC, but Binder said that was not the case.

Following discussion on the issue, another motion was made and seconded to accept Binder’s recommendation. The vote was three yes, one no, and board member Toni Larson abstained.

The school’s nutrition fund was also reviewed on Wednesday. For many years, a transfer from the general fund to the nutrition fund has been made to cover costs, a practice that is no longer allowed. “The program can no longer run in the red,” Binder stated.

The board approved the superintendent’s recommendation to increase the price of adult lunches to $3.20. The student lunch price will go from $1.25 per day to $1.30, starting with the 2013-14 school year.

Also on Wednesday, the board revisited the issue of installing security cameras and doors at the school and reviewed quotes on three cameras and three doors. Their decision was to complete the ELC building project and planned parking lot projects before making a final decision on security, which can be installed at any time.

In an update on the ELC expansion project, Binder said that it is on target for the August 1 completion date.

For the update on gym improvements, the stage wall, ceiling panels, and gym walls have all been painted. Good progress is being made on summer maintenance projects in the school.

In other business, the board accepted the resignation of veteran bus driver Burton Patterson. Advertisements are in place for the position and for substitute bus drivers.

Also, Binder praised band instructor Jon Jensen for offering free band lessons to Stratford students this summer. Jensen comes to Stratford to meet with students, and Binder said there is plenty of interest.

Board members were reminded that nomination papers for this fall’s school board election will be available starting July 8. Three school board seats are up for re-election.