Hancock hires new band director

You could say that Sophie Strand jumped into her new job with both feet. Strand was approved as the new band director at the school during the school board meeting on June 17. However, even before the official approval, Strand started working with the band students to prepare for marching in the July Fourth parade.  Just a few months ago the board was wondering if there would be a marching band ready for the parade. 

Principal Tim Pahl told the board that the district is very fortunate to get such a wonderful candidate to apply for the job. He had a total of 17 applicants who were interviewed by some of the former music directors. They unanimously recommended Strand and the board approved this recommendation. 

Strand was present at the meeting and able to meet the board members. Pahl said that she grew up in Paynesville and both of her parents were also educators. She attended North Dakota State University where she was the drum major for the marching band. Pahl said that the comments from former teachers and fellow workers during her student teaching were all extremely positive.

“I am very excited to have her here,” Pahl concluded.

Pahl also congratulated several spring sports participants for the many honors they accumulated during the season. Several were named to the All Conference first team and All Conference second team  Both track teams received the Gold Team Academic Award and took third place in the conference meet. The baseball team also received the Gold Team Academic Award. 

Pahl presented a list of staff for the 2024-25 school year. All positions have been filled except for a second science teacher. He has been posting this position but has not received any applicants.He said that he and Superintendent Paul Carlson have been discussing options but will continue to advertise for a teacher.

The board decided to go forward with the purchase of a new school bus. The bus will be a 2025 Bluebird 77 passenger gas powered bus at a cost of $122,127. Carlson explained that this bus will join the current fleet of eight buses, three vans and two mini buses. One of the current buses will be traded in for the new bus. The last time a new bus was purchased was in 2020.

Carlson said that the bus purchase amount has been figured into the new budge for next year. Helping to offset it will be the transfer of about $99,028 from the Construction fund that is no longer needed. This was recommended by the Finance Committee who met to discuss the 2024-25 budget.

Carlson explained several other aspects of the budget which he said would be very “tight” next year. This budget was based on an enrollment of 437 students and the current estimate is for 440 students, up 11 from the end of the school year.

The board approved the preliminary budget with the closing out of the construction fund.

Also approved at the meeting was a check for $8,925.17 from the Hancock School fund to cover various grant requests. This money will fund new choir gowns, field trips, the Elementary Stem program and many more things.

In preparation for the November election, two resolutions were approved that will now be published in the newspaper. The seats of Troy Hausmann, Kevin Koehl and Justin Cronen will be up for election this year. The filing period will run from July 30, 2024 to August 13, 2024.

Carlson presented the board with a couple options as far as insurance coverage for next year. One of these was from Bremer/Hanover which is the current agent. This will be the fifth year with Bremer/Hanover and Carlson said that it looks better to stay with a company for at least five years. There was another company a little cheaper but the deductible was $25,000 compared to $10,000 with Bremer/Hanover. The board approved the coverage with Bremer/Hanover at a total premium of $105,216.75.