Public meetings on District 544’s technology plan, internet safety policy and the public school’s taxes payable for 2020 were held Monday in the Otter community room.

Business manager, Mark Masten prefaced both public meetings with his remarks. Masten, who was attending his final school board meeting after 37 years of service, recalled that the original technology plan and internet safety policy was 40 pages long. The policy is intended to safeguard students by intercepting everything which comes into the school’s network. In the years which have followed the Legislature’s insistence that school districts follow the policy guidelines Masten said it has melted to half a page. 

“I hope some day the Legislature pulls this off for one of your requirements because it’s quite outmoded,” Masten told the board.

Masten was equally candid during the taxes payable public meeting. 

The proposed levy for the 2020-21 fiscal year will be $7,526,494.69, an increase of approximately $334,562.57 and a change of 4.7%.

“The (referendum) is driving most of what is changed in our taxes,” Masten said. “It’s up 9.8% and it’s being driven by two factors, both of which are out of our control. The first of which is property values, which are 4.3% and other is because parents sending more kids to our school district.”  

Both public meetings were followed by the board giving their approval.

The board also gave approval to the financial audit of fiscal year 2019, an additional .083 FTE for a work experience teaching position at iQ Academy, a proposal to call for bids on the renovation of Lincoln School and an agreement with Lakeland Mental Health to provide a full-time school-based practitioner on-site at Cleveland Elementary at a maximum fee of $42,783, two mental health practitioners at Adams and Cleveland for a fee of $85,567, a mental health professional at Kennedy for a fee of $21,453 and a mental health/chemical health practitioner at Kennedy for a fee of $40,381.

The board also gratefully acknowledged the services of Sue Thorsen by issuing a resolution of thanks for her two decades of service to the district.

Thorsen retired from District 544 Friday after serving as both a special-education paraprofessional and a secretary.

General consent items approved in addition to Thorsen’s retirement were:

• The support staff hires of Jileen Tenneson (special-education paraprofessional) at Adams; Trista Tostenson (special education paraprofessional) at Cleveland; Amy Ceroll (secretary) at Community Education and Molly Frank (secretary) at Middle School/Kennedy.

• The resignation of support staffers Beau Matthys (special education paraprofessional) at Cleveland; Lori Jensen (secondary school nurse/LPN) at Kennedy.

• A certified teaching staff - overload contract for Lynette Ringquist (i.Q. Academy elementary teacher).

• The certified staff hire of Jennifer Carlson (long-term elementary teacher substitute) at Adams.  


Presenting reports to the board were Ryan Johnson of the i.Q. Academy, Adams and McKinley Elementary Principal Scott Colbeck, Cleveland Elementary Principal Tindy Rund, Kennedy Secondary Principal Dean Monke, Superintendent Jeff Drake and school board members Kirby Anderson, Melanie Cole, Missy Hermes, Natalie Knutson, Matt Lemke and Stephen Vigesaa.

A reorganization meeting on Jan. 13 will be followed by a regular school board meeting.


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