For several weeks now I have been hearing and reading about many issues relating to the Frazee School District. These issues go from teacher contract negotiations to spending of district money, neglecting to inform the public about what is going on, etc. Trying to get clear concise answers to any of the above seems to be quite challenging to say the least.
It appears that there wasn't any valid reason for the teacher negotiations to go on for the length of time that they did. No reason it would seem, unless it's what Mr. Cook meant when he stated and I quote, "I've got better things to do than negotiate a contract." If this be true Mr. Cook, why not just resign from the school board and take care of these almighty important things that are taking up all of your valuable time? I am sure that the district would manage to survive without you!
Another item of contention is the amount of money being spent by the superintendent without any apparent oversight by the school board. I realize that a certain amount of trust must be given to the superintendent, but I feel that there should be some accounting by the board to the public as to how the taxpayers' money is being used. I am apparently wrong in my thinking, as Chair Laine made it perfectly clear when she stated and I quote, "We don't have to justify ourselves." This statement leads me to the picnic table and what seems to me as a rather large sum of money for one table.
There are many prices being thrown about as to the actual cost of the table in question, so I will go with the latest figures, which were attributed to Mr. Stender. The figure I recall was $7,850 for everything involved with the table. I believe it was 1991 when I had a picnic table built for me by a student in either the Ag class or the Shop class and if my memory serves me correctly, that table cost me like $50. I still have that table, in fact I just used it 2 days ago for a family gathering and I am quite sure that the table has quite a few more years of useful life. I realize that the price of lumber has increased quite a lot since 1991, but wouldn't it have made much more sense to go to the Ag Dept. or the Shop Dept. if we needed picnic tables? I know that my math and administration math will probably differ quite a bit, but with my math and using inflation as a guide, I divide $7,850 by $100 per table and we could have built 78 tables and had some salvage lumber left at the end.
In closing I would like to leave you with this thought: With Laine's statement that the board doesn't have to justify what they do and with Cook's statement that he has more important things to do than negotiate a contract, consider what another school board member in another district said recently. Those remarks and I quote, "There is no doubt that we as a School Board are the experts on this board's financial situation." Heaven help us and head for the polls in November. -- Oscar Birkeland, Frazee