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District issues at center of Frazee-Vergas forum

Frazee-Vergas School Board candidates had a chance to speak to voters Sunday night at a forum at the Frazee Event Center.

Eight of the 10 candidates campaigning for four seats answered questions submitted by the 60-some constituents in the Becker County district.

Residents will vote in a primary on Aug. 10.

Leading up to Sunday's gathering, much of the attention had been on the decision to give Superintendent Deron Sender a new three-year contract.

While the mood was civil and polite both on the stage and in the crowd, candidates did address concerns about the superintendent as well as other board members without naming names.

When a question was asked about the recent one-hour contract negotiation, challenger Carey Alger said, "There needs to be sharp changes in the way favoritism is on the board. ... Let's play the game fair."

"It wasn't a good deal," added challenger Chris Wacker. Kevin Litzau called it "underhanded."

Don Thorp said there was nothing wrong with the process and that all the board members had the material they needed to review.

Thorp's fellow incumbent, Rich Ziegler, said the contract issue was on the agenda and then taken off, leading to confusion.

But when candidates were asked for their vision on transparency on the school board and in the administration, Thorp stressed "there were no back-room meetings."

When asked what good qualities of a superintendent were, most said communication was key.

Matt Bauer added that being outgoing was a major quality, but "I don't think that's going on right now."

When asked for thoughts on times for school board meetings, most agreed they would be open to public input.

Chris Wacker added that the focus should be on what works best for those involved in the meetings, like board members and others involved in business decisions.

That prompted Alger to reply, "That's part of the problem in this community; we don't listen to the public."

The candidates did agree on certain issues, like that a four-day school week ­wasn't in the district's best interest and that the district didn't need a specific public relations person.

Brenda Como and Jim Nelson missed the event.

The event was organized by the League of Women Voters.