• Wildcat Chat with Jamie Boelter NLS Superintendent

  • Wildcat Chat: Under the Hood

    Posted by Jamie Boelter, Superintendent on 4/24/2023

    A favorite conversation piece when I visit my father-in-law is his 1977 two-door Chevy Corvette Coupe.  He bought it about 8 years ago to fulfill a dream to own one as well as something to tinker on in his garage.  All the grandkids have gotten a ride, along with a commemorative picture on the fridge that they always admire when visiting grandma and grandpa in Clara City.  The two oldest grandkids have already discussed using it for prom.

    In conversation with my father-in-law, he admits he knew he had a project on his hands when he bought it.  Over the years, he’d tell me about the tires he had to replace and a new brake system with new brake pads and brake lines.  He also changed the carburetor from an air pressure vacuum system to an electric system.  The list goes on and on, but he did what he had to do to keep this beauty on the road.  The memories and experiences far outweighed the cost and time put into fixing it.     

    On July 1, 2023, I was given the keys to the NLS school district.  Rather than being handed the keys to a sweet 1977 Coupe, my keys open the doors to our buildings. The memories and experiences of our staff and students filling the halls and classrooms steer my days.  However, in my conversations with my Buildings and Grounds Director, I can’t help but notice the similarities between the upkeep of a classic car and school buildings.  Pipe, roof, boiler, heating unit, and air handling repairs have become common, prompting the district to do two buildings studies; one by Bradbury and Stamm and the other by SiteLogIQ.

    Both reports confirmed, many of our systems and equipment in our 1963, 1968, and 1993 buildings and additions are well beyond life.  Tests of our CO2 levels in classrooms are above recommended amounts.  Just like a car built in 1977, buildings can only be fixed so much before parts need to be replaced.  I want to applaud our custodial staff and buildings and grounds personnel over the years for extending the life of systems and equipment invested in by our stakeholders.  

    In clear transparency, the district does not have enough money to fix and upgrade our systems and equipment to modern code.  As a public school, we access money through Long Term Facility Maintenance funds, Capital funds, Voter Approved Levies, General funds and Board Approved Levies.  Given we receive just over $600,000 per year in Long Term Facility Maintenance, just over $500,000 a year in Capital and have a General Fund balance slightly over $400,000, this leaves us quite short of the funds needed to take on “under the hood” projects.  In the coming months, the school board will be investigating ways to address these issues.  The goal is to protect community assets and provide an exceptional learning experience for our youth.

    Conditions of car brakes, tires, and carburetors aren’t known until you take a look under the hood.  When driving by or walking through school buildings, one does not see the pipes, air handling units, boilers and roofs unless you also take a look behind the walls and into the ceilings.  One may only see a classic car to envy. 

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  • School Board Recognition Month 2/14/2023

    Posted by Jamie Boelter, Superintendent on 2/14/2023

    To honor our school board members past and present during School Board Recognition Month, I want to say thank you.  Currently, our school board members are Board Chair, Lucinda Dahlberg, Vice Chair, Mark Peterson, Board Clerk, Susan Lange, Treasurer, Jeff Vetsch, Darryl Nelson, Laura Nelson, and Del Brouwer. 
    My career started as an English teacher, and being in education my entire career, it took me a few years to understand all the commitments of a board member.  Needless to say, being a board member is more than two meetings a month. Our board members spend many hours serving on a variety of additional committees including but not limited to; Buildings and Grounds, Labor and Transportation, Finance, Executive, Advisory, High School League, Policy committee and many more! A detailed rundown of our school board’s involvement in school and local committees is located on our website (www.nls.k12.mn.us/schoolboard).
    Again, thank you to our past and present board members who have put in countless hours looking out for our future.
    Jamie Boelter, NLS Superintendent 

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  • Time to Celebrate! 12/12/2022

    Posted by Jamie Boelter, Superintendent on 12/12/2022 5:00:00 AM

    Time to Celebrate!

    Dear New London-Spicer Wildcat Community,

    When penning this edition of Wildcat Chat, I thought about many topics such as teacher workshop days, government spending on education vs. inflation, special education cross subsidization and the state government surplus.  Trust me, I will cover all those topics in the future, but when it’s time to celebrate, it’s time to celebrate…  

    It has been a “Wild” ride these past couple weeks, celebrating a nationally viral State Football Championship as well as keeping tabs on Coach Dreier’s record-breaking wins total, as he has now become the all-time winningest coach in not just girls basketball, but all basketball in the state of Minnesota.  It’s not often that a school gets as much media attention as NLS these past couple weeks, and I am continually impressed by our student athletes and coaches as they navigate the spotlight.  

    My dad always said, “you should never brag about yourself.  It’s more important what others say about you.”  I can’t say enough about the coaches as they are some of the most humble people I have ever met.  When I attempt to compliment them, they always smile and say it’s about the kids.  No wonder they are successful!         

    To top it off, the cast and crew and directors of Annie had a wonderful three-night performance in front of over 1,000 people.  A special thanks to our band director, Mr. West, as he transported pep band students back for the Saturday performance so they could also play music at the state football game.  Also, thank you to Director Prill for being flexible through all of the craziness.  “All hands on deck” is the mantra I’ve witnessed over and over again during my time at NLS.  

    I also want to take the time to recognize three outstanding board members who will be stepping down after December.  Cherrish Holland, Renee Nolting, and Nancy Wehseler have done a stellar job serving the district during historical and unprecedented challenges.  I tip my cap to you.

    Mark Peterson will be returning, and newly elected board members Del Brouwer, Laura Nelson, and Darryl Nelson have big shoes to fill, but I have been impressed by their willingness to jump in early and eagerly.  They are a great fit and have demonstrated great passion for the students of NLS.

    When there is so much positivity and energy flowing through your school district, it’s important to recognize it and celebrate it.  Thank you NLS Community for your support in making this a great place for our students.

    Go Wildcats! 

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  • Community Update 9/23/2022

    Posted by Jamie Boelter, Superintendent on 9/23/2022 5:00:00 AM

    Friday, September 23, 2022

    Dear New London-Spicer Stakeholders,

    Serving as the New London-Spicer High School Principal for the past three years has brought joy to me and my family, and I now look forward to serving the district in a wider capacity. It is a great honor that I am able to reintroduce myself as your new Superintendent. 

    Last year, New London-Spicer residents passed an operating levy to support our schools.  I am beyond grateful and proud of our community for doing so. Part of my role is to keep our community informed on the financial well-being of our district. With that said, I would like to highlight what your investment in our schools has already allowed us to do.

    • Smaller class sizes at the elementary and middle school levels have been maintained, while the ability to assign high school teachers six classes has stabilized class sizes at that level as well.

    • Academic Interventionists at the Elementary and Middle School levels were hired to engage students who struggle in reading and/or math. 

    • Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programming was also added at these levels to engage students in critical skills needed for modern society. 

    • At the High School, we were able to hire another Special Education teacher to service our students with various disabilities as well as, maintain our Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) class and add a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) class. These classes are pipelines to critical workforce needs in our area.

    • Due to previous budget cuts, we were not able to keep our Media Centers open full time.  With the added funding, we are now able to have our Media Centers open full time, so students have access to resources that help them further their learning.

    • Deans of Students were hired at the Middle School and High School for added focus on student behavior and attendance.  School behavior and attendance are greatly tied to academic achievement, and it’s important that we have a focus on engaging students if they are struggling to behave appropriately and attend school regularly.

    • Classroom technology has also been updated as new interactive boards have been purchased for classrooms across the district.  We will continue to budget for technology as the pandemic proved the need for and advantages of maintaining a 1:1 device to student ratio.

    • A bus route was added to allow the bus company to strategically plan to have kids riding buses for shorter periods of time.  Our unique geography around the lakes can be challenging, but ultimately, more buses equals shorter trips for our students.

    Before the referendum was passed, our district cut over a million dollars to avoid deficit spending.  At that time, our fund balance was at about 1%.  During our yearly audits, auditors encouraged us that our school fund balance should be between 15%-20%, allowing us to operate the district for about two months without any revenue.  Part of our plan with the referendum dollars is to build the fund balance by 2%-5% each year until 15%-20% is reached.

    Switching gears. In recent years, we had a food service partnership with Willmar Public Schools and Central Minnesota Christian to provide oversight of our program.  We were notified last year that, due to retirement, those services would no longer be available to us.  From there, the district sought proposals from food service companies and has contracted with Taher Inc. for the 2022-2023 school year.  As with any transition, there are bumps along the way and Taher Food Service, like many other companies, has not been immune to staffing shortages.  If you or anyone you know may be interested in a Food Service position, or one of the other open positions within our district, please visit:  www.nls.k12.mn.us/employment.

    Last school year, with input from a variety of stakeholders, we unveiled our Portrait of a Graduate.  These stakeholders identified that they value New London-Spicer students ingrained with the skills of Global Citizenship, Leadership, Communication, Responsibility, Problem Solving, and Perseverance.  As a district, we are looking at ways these skills are currently being nurtured as well as ways we can improve these types of experiences.

    As we look to further improve educational opportunities for our students, we are beginning the process of laying out a new strategic plan and mission statement.  Our current strategic plan has expired and we look to you as stakeholders to provide input as we work through this endeavor.  

    We ask that you take the time to fill out one of the short surveys below and share your feedback regarding New London-Spicer Schools:

    High School Student Survey: https://bit.ly/StudentStakes
    Community Members Survey: https://bit.ly/CommunityStakes
    NLS Staff Survey: https://bit.ly/StaffStakes 

    I continued to be impressed by this community and our students each day and everyday. I am humbled to work for such a strong school district and community. 

    As always, Go Wildcats! 

    Jamie Boelter, Superintendent
    BoelterJ@isd345.org | 320.354.2252 Press 0
    New London-Spicer Schools

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