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Clark out as Waubun coach

A divided Waubun-Ogema-White Earth School Board decided that the Waubun High School football team needed to go a different direction in appointing a new head coach Monday night.

By a 4-3 vote, the board named Jason McCloskey, currently an assistant for the football team and head coach for girls basketball, to the job. McCloskey replaced John Clark, who was not retained despite the recommendation of Superintendent Joe Merseth.

"Normally I do go along with committee recommendations," said board Chairman Jim Helliksen.

The choice to replace Clark was controversial, a point that Helliksen noted when opening the meeting for public comment. Helliksen said that he didn't want negative comments dragging down the meeting, instead imploring audience members to keep their remarks positive.

Almost everyone in the audience who spoke out was in favor of McCloskey. Some cited his work with the girls basketball team in serving as a leader.

What swung some board members to make a change was the fact that players could have contact him during the day and throughout the year since he is teaching, instead of just during football practice and games.

"I feel the head coach should probably be also an employee of ours in the school building," Helliksen said.

Board member Barb Fabre told the other board members before the vote that she would support Clark, since the activities committee recommended him

"The activities committee made a recommendation and the administration made a recommendation," Fabre said. "We have to let the process go."

A motion to appoint Clark as coach failed by a 4-3 decision right before the vote to name McCloskey was taken.

Helliksen said beforehand that if neither candidate were favorable to the board, it would have gone back to the activities committee to make another recommendation.

Other action taken by the board included:

? Preliminary approval of the 2008-09 budget. It was the first reading of the budget and the final proposal will presented at the June meeting. Merseth said that the numbers would change slightly due to late funding changes passed by the legislature.

? Approving the installation of air conditioning in the technology lab at the high school. Heat from the equipment proved to be unbearable when weather conditions prevented the windows from being opened. The total cost is estimated to be $8,706.

? The school forest parking lot will be expanded. Estimated costs of moving debris, fill and gravel is $2,200. Merseth said that if a bus is parked in the current lot, getting around the lot is difficult.

? The board took no action on a timber sale from wood in the school forest. Bert Wichern won a bid in 2006, but stated in the past that he couldn't afford to take the timber out at the price he bid. Wichern forfeited a $3,205 down payment. Other options given included re-bidding the sale or trying to put in a combined bid for adjacent state forest land.

? Wrestling cheerleading was saved as the board approved keeping the part-time adviser position after Mahnomen dropped its program that the schools shared.