Zach Stich | Daily journal

Following the agenda: Fergus Falls School Board member Stephen Vigesaa (left to right), superintendent Jeff Drake and board president Matthew Lemke look over the agenda during Monday’s school board meeting at the Otter Community Room.

The Fergus Falls School Board met Monday for a quick meeting to approve a few items and hear reports for the various committees the members are a part of.

After taking role for a quorum, the board heard from Kirby Anderson about the happenings in the 544 Education Foundation. Anderson mentioned that last week’s Otter Pride Night was a success as the foundation served over 500 tacos in a bag and mentioned that the group also served the teachers on their last inservice day before the beginning of the school year. The foundation also fulfilled 50 of the 97 class wish-list requests with more to follow.

Board member Melanie Cole spoke about a new directive that the Special Education Cooperative had in place. This directive involved those with reading disabilities and dyslexia. Cole mentioned that this directive is not new, but is now required.

Board member Missy Hermes discussed Staff Development Committee and how the staff has already signed up for several upcoming workshops and conferences. Hermes mentioned that only a third of the budget for staff development is still available for the school year.

Board president, Mathew Lemke discussed a few items from Lakes Country Service Cooperative, while board members Natalie Knutson and Stephen Vigesaa had nothing to report from their committees.

Superintendent Jeff Drake spoke about a few items. First, he wanted to thank staff for a smooth start to the school year, while also thanking the community for its turnout to the school’s open house night. He also mentioned that the school will be testing its new code red and yellow buttons at 7 a.m. Wednesday.

A major topic of conversation for Drake was last spring’s state math, reading and science tests. Drake stated that the Fergus Falls Public School District was above the state average for all grades tested in each of the fields. “This is a point of pride for the school,” Drake said.

The superintendent also compared the school’s 2019-20 first day enrollment numbers to last year. The district saw increases in enrollment at Kennedy Secondary School and Cleveland Elementary School, while Adams and McKinley elementary schools saw a dip in enrollment, as well as iQ Academy. Business manager Mark Masten stated that it could still fluctuate through the year but there is no telling if it will be a plus or minus. The Area Learning Center numbers remained the same.

In new business, the school district approved a membership agreement between ISD 544 Adult Basic Education and Ashby Public School through the school year. Other items that were approved were the addition of a full-time special education paraprofessional and the hire of Carolyn Anderson effective Sept. 19, and a contract with Lakes Country Service Cooperative for secondary vocational services.

The board also acknowledged a donation of flutes, clarinets and a trumpet to the Kennedy Secondary School Music Department by Michael Harlow, and donations to the Otter Angel Account by Robert and Terri Blackwelder and Sammy Ebert, and hires.

Certified staff hire

Kathleen Rittenour, physical education teacher (part time/per pupil) at iQ Academy, effective Sept. 11.

Support staff hires

Tricia Riemer, special education paraprofessional at KSS, effective Sept. 16.

Kristen Rowlan, noon hour supervisor at Cleveland, effective Aug. 29.

After the approvals, the board closed the meeting to discuss negotiation strategies related to the school’s negotiations with the Fergus Falls Education Association.

The school board will meet again Monday, Sept. 16 for discussion on the Lincoln School bonds at 5 p.m., while the regularly scheduled school board meeting will be Monday, Sept. 23 at 5:15 p.m.


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