banner.gif (15051 bytes)

News from the week of March 27, 2002

Possible school cuts outlined

Tracy Area Public Schools (TAPS) superintendent Dr. Rick Clark submitted a list of reduction options to the School Board in a letter dated March 17. District 417 anticipates having to cut approximately $150,000 from its budget for the 2002-2003 school year.

In the letter, Dr. Clark explained that the Board's Finance Committee had requested the list of options rather than a recommendation from the administration regarding reductions.

Dr. Clark explained in his letter that any part or all of each option could be considered. Reduction options included in the letter along with their approximate dollar value and possible ramifications are as follows:

• Reduction of one administrator and combining of position responsibilities—$70,000.

• Elimination of Technology Coordinator position—$54,000 (create a new administrative position of contract for services).

• Do not offer any class with fewer than 15 students (elective classes)—cost is unknown at this time since high school scheduling is in process.

• Elimination of art classes in junior/senior high—$50,000.

• Do not authorize a re-hire for resignation of Dick Brink (business course instructor)—$43,000 (course selection has been reduced from 3 FTE in the `80s).

• Elimination of all co-curricular activities—$105,000.

• Elimination of FLA—$51,000 (courses in junior and senior high would be affected).

• Elimination of vocal and instrumental music (K-12)—$145,000 (would affect elementary preparation time schedules).

• Elimination of guidance services—$57,000 (elimination of guidance counselor and create a 7-12 registrar of students).

• Elimination of health and physical education (K-12)—$129,000 (currently the State of Minnesota does not require these classes).

• Reduction of one industrial arts instructor—$37,000 (would leave two vocational instructors in junior/senior high).

• Maximum of three sections in high school building—$34,000 (reduction would be made in science and English).

• Maximum of two sections in elementary school—$32,000 (reduction of one FTE).

• Elimination of .32 FTE in junior/senior high English—$17,000.

• Reduction of one paraprofessional in each building—$20,000.

• Elimination of junior high athletic program—$50,000.

EDA discusses waiver of revolving loan limit

A Tracy business, considering a major expansion, could be making a $40,000 loan request to the Tracy Economic Development Authority soon.

Robert Gervais, Tracy Community Development director, told EDA members of the potential loan request Friday morning. He provided no details of the proposed expansion, other than to say that the business plan was completed and that it could happen shortly.

If the revolving loan application is received, Gervais said the EDA will need to decide whether to waive its requirement that loans be limited to no more than 30% of the loan fund's balance. EDA's revolving loan fund has about $57,000.

Gervais noted that the EDA will have access to more loan money, once the Minnesota Community Capital Fund is up and running in late May or early June. The EDA has agreed to commit $25,000 to the fund, which would give the EDA access to up to $250,000 in loan money. However, the $40,000 loan request may be made before the Community Capital Fund is up and running.

Float contest planned for Box Car Days

The Tracy Box Car Days Committee hopes to revive an old parade tradition this Labor Day weekend.

A neighborhood float contest is planned to help add extra interest to this year's Box Car Days parade.

Homemade neighborhood floats are being sought in each of four areas in Tracy. And just to make sure that Tracy's country cousins don't miss out on the fun, rural floats are also being sought.

Prizes will be awarded, although what they will be, hasn't been decided.

“We want to let people know about the float contest early, so they have time to plan,” explains Bob Gervais, Tracy Community Development director.

For the purpose of the contest, Tracy has been divided into four quadrants. The northwest area is everything north and west of Rowland and Second streets. The northeast area is bounded by Second Street, the Airport Road, Rowland and State streets. The southwest and southeast quadrants are the neighborhoods south of Rowland and State Streets and divided by South Fourth Street.

It is hoped that rural people northwest, northeast, southeast, and southwest of Tracy will also each have a group float for the parade.

Homemade floats were common during the years of Box Car Days. Promoters hope to make this year's Box Car Days celebration especially memorable, since 2002 marks the 75th anniversary of the community celebration.

TMB takes third straight subsection speech title

The Tracy-Milroy-Balaton Speech team made it three in a row on Saturday as the Panthers dominated the Subsection 11 Tournament in Minneota.

TMB successfully defended its subsection titles from 2000 and 2001 by racking up 137 team points. That total easily outdistanced runner-up Minneota, who finished the day with 77 points. RTR was third with 46 points, followed by Redwood Valley, Canby, Lincoln HI, and Dawson-Boyd.

Five individual champions from TMB were crowned during the day-long competition.

Senior Shanna Lowe defended her subsection championship in Storytelling. Lowe, a state entrant in that category last year, has now won three tournament titles in a row this year.

Another senior, Kim Lanoue, earned the gold medal in Humorous, the category with the most entrants on Saturday. It gave Lanoue her first trip to the Section 3A tournament.

Junior Joanna Olson continued her impressive season with a commanding victory in Informative. Sophomore Brian French won his first tournament title of any kind with his performance in Serious Drama.

The fifth tournament title for TMB was determined by a tiebreaker in Extemporaneous Speaking in which eventual champion Rebecca Gervais, a Panther freshman, was deadlocked with Panther teammates Brady Averill and Eric Nelson. The complicated procedure determined that Gervais was the winner, followed by Averill and Nelson, respectively.

The five individual champions for TMB exhibits the kind of day the Panthers had on Saturday—no other team had more than two champions.

I left my heart in Barcelona. . . .

TAHS students share experience from Spanish trip

Seventeen Tracy Area High School Spanish students recently returned from a trip to Spain. Here are their accounts of their trip.

Madrid—March 2-5

We definitely saw the most tourist attractions in Madrid. Our first day in Madrid we visited the Museo del Prado. It is one of the most famous museums in Spain and displays artworks by Greco, Bosch, and Velasquez. Also that day, we went to the Park Retiro to relax and just look around. Our restaurant of choice for supper was the Hard Rock Cafe.

The Rastro was also on our list of activities. It would be known as a flea market in the U.S. There were little booths lined up in every direction. After that, we headed to the Palacio Real. It was very beautiful. Each room was detailed differently. The kings and queens resided there long ago.

One of our last visits was to a modern art museum called the Reina Sofia. You have to have a certain taste for that artwork. The “Guernica” by Picasso is in that museum.

All in all, Madrid was an interesting and beautiful city.

Laura Miller and Catie Macken

Toledo and Segovia—March 4-5

Toledo is a medieval city that we visited in Spain. It is built on a hill, and the cobblestone streets are all very narrow. In Toledo, we visited the cathedral, which is one of the most famous cathedrals in Spain. It took over 400 years to construct and is a true work of art. The cathedral was the favorite site of many of the students. Also in Toledo, we toured a sword factory. We got a nice little tour, and were able to watch the crafters carefully decorating plates and jewelry with gold. Toledo was a beautiful city and we liked it very much.

Another city we visited was Segovia, which is located 1,000 miles above sea level in one of Spain's mountain ranges. In Segovia, we saw the aqueducts which were built by the Romans in the early 2nd century. The aqueducts brought water from the mountains down to the city of Segovia. They were build using no mortar and are still in usable condition today. Segovia is also home to a giant castle named al Alcázar. The Alcázar is one of the most visited places in Spain and is absolutely beautiful. The castle, which is shaped like a ship, has several towers and a moat and drawbridge.

Becky Lessman and Elizabeth Malmberg

The family stay—March 6-12

A major part of the trip to Spain was the family stay. We were in Spain for two weeks and one of those weeks was spent with a family. This was the opportunity for all of us to experience everyday Spanish life and for us to become more fluent in the language. With the exception of two students, we were all located in northern Spain near the industrial city of Bilbao.

The bus ride from Madrid to Bilbao was six hours long, giving us more than enough time to get nervous for our week-long adventure with our new families. When we noticed the Bilbao city limit sign, the bus became slightly hysterical. “What would my family be like? Would they know any English? Would they be able to understand me? It can't be that awful. Remember, it's only a week.” We all got off the bus, took a quick picture with our new family, and then were off on our separate ways.

A week later our group was reunited and we all exchanged our new and exciting experiences. For the most part, everyone seemed to have an extremely wonderful time. The majority of us were even crying when we had to get on the bus and leave our families. We now look back on our experience and can't seem to figure out why we were so nervous to get off that bus. It was truly the experience of a lifetime and we will never forget it!

Leah Malone and Shanna Lowe

Steve Jones resigns from TMB Speech coach position

Tracy-Milroy-Balaton Speech coach Steve Jones informed District 417 school board members of his desire to resign from that position at the conclusion of this season. In a letter to the board, Jones cited several reasons for his resignation including family and professional commitments, his pursuit of an advanced degree and the onset of the track & field season (Jones is also coach of this team).

Jones stated that “reaching this decision was one of the most difficult choices I have ever made” and that he has “been privileged to have been associated with a bevy of outstanding young people who understand the importance of the role that successful communication can play in their lives.”

Jones took over as Speech coach for the 1998-1999 season. The TMB Speech program has seen phenomenal growth under Jones' tutelage. Prior to Jones taking over, the program had approximately 12 participants. This season there were 85 students from grades 6-12 on the Speech team. In his letter Jones wrote that it has become difficult to “service the needs of a team this size.” Jones went on to say that “the Speech program has attained a level that I feel is as far as it can reach with me as Head Coach. Someone else is needed to take it to the next level.”

In closing, Jones thanked the administration and board members, saying the program wouldn't have achieved what it had without their “visible support.” He also expressed a desire that the program
“continue to be an activity which benefits many children in the years to come.”