Weather Forecast


DL Board OKs contract for new superintendent

The Detroit Lakes School Board made the final step toward selecting a new superintendent Monday night, by unanimously approving a contract with Mark Adams, current superintendent of Deer River Public Schools.

The three-year contract will include a first-year salary of $110,000.

Adams, who was present for the meeting, said he was "thrilled to be on board."

In a follow-up interview on Tuesday, Adams said he has already begun the process of searching for a home in Detroit Lakes; though his family, including two sons and a daughter, plans to stay in Grand Rapids at the present time.

Adams also said he plans to make several trips to Detroit Lakes between now and the time of his official start date, July 1.

"I will be there quite a bit in June, so that when July comes, I can hit the ground running," he said.

Adams will also be involved in the interviews for the position of district business manager, which he said he expects will begin in "mid-May."

Current Business Manager Dick Lundeen submitted his retirement resignation at the March school board meeting, to become effective at the end of September. Unlike Lundeen, however, when Superintendent Lowell Niklaus steps down on June 30, he will not be leaving the district's employ; Niklaus plans to become DL's new education director.

"He (Niklaus) is going to be a great asset, in regards to knowledge and resources... he knows the landscape of the Detroit Lakes district," Adams said. "I think our styles will complement one another well."

The application period for the district business manager's position will close on April 21; after that, finalists will be selected and interviews set. Niklaus said at Monday's meeting that while "the number (of applications) hasn't been high, the quality is there."

Though the district's administration office will be seeing a lot of changes in the next few months, however, the membership of the Detroit Lakes school board is unlikely to be altered until at least 2008.

The board approved a resolution at Monday's meeting which will change the official date of district school board elections from odd to even-numbered years. This measure will, in effect, extend the length of all current board members' terms by one year.

It will also mean that the next school board election, originally scheduled to take place in 2007, will now be held in November 2008, in conjunction with city, county, state and federal elections.

Though the resolution had the effect of extending current board members' terms in office by a full year, Niklaus said the primary reason for doing so was a financial one.

By changing the date of the school board election to coincide with the general election for county, state and federal offices, the board eliminated the need to hire its own election judges or purchase federally-required voting equipment and ballots.

From now on, the school board elections will be included in the general election ballot. The expense for those elections is borne by the county and not the school district, Niklaus noted. The district budgeted $4,500 for school board elections in 2005-06.

In addition to the financial concerns, however, Niklaus said there was a second reason for the change: voter turnout.

"When the school board election is the only thing on the ballot (in odd-numbered years), the turnout is typically low," Niklaus said. "By including (school board) as part of the national elections, the turnout should be higher -- and that means having more people choosing who their school board members are."

With the change, the terms of school board members LuAnn Porter, Deanna Sinclair and Dr. Tom Seaworth have been extended from 2007 to 2008. The terms of recently elected board members Terrie Boyd, Tom Klyve and David Langworthy have been lengthened from four to five years, and will now expire in 2010.

After 2010, all board members will go back to being elected to four-year terms.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454