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Frazee staff contracts on hold again

In June, independent contracts for several members of the Frazee-Vergas School District team were deferred until a future meeting. Those staff raises were on the Monday agenda but were again deferred until Friday's meeting.

Board member Rich Ziegler, who is also an attorney in Detroit Lakes, said there are multiple language changes needed in the contracts and he would like them cleaned up before voting on them.

Some of the contracts simply had new names plugged in and the contracts hadn't been changed in quite a few years. Ziegler showed that one hadn't been updated since 1998.

He said that since he had already made the changes in the contracts he had read, he'd be happy to sit down with Superintendent Deron Stender and make sure the changes got made.

"Is your main practice contracts?" board member Nancy Dashner questioned.

Ziegler said that yes, he handles a fair number of contracts in his line of work.

Dashner said she'd like to see the district's lawyer go over the contracts instead because that's their expertise, or to have a Minnesota School Boards Association lawyer look at the contracts.

"I'm not an MSBA lawyer, but before you start spending money on lawyers, I'm willing to sit down with these people," Ziegler said.

Board member Dwight Cook said he contacted an MSBA representative and found that it would cost $500-$600 per contract, costing the district about $3,000 for the six contracts on the agenda.

The 2010-12 contracts involve Information Specialist April Anderson, Office Manager Amie Erickson, Business Managers Diane Menz and Donna Mineer, Elementary Dean of Students Troy Haugen and Director of Community Education Lori Thorp.

Ziegler also offered to sit down with each of the individuals whose contracts were up and see about changes in salary increases.

Cook said that the superintendent is hired to do these negotiations, and it's his job, not the board's. But, he agreed that Ziegler should clean up the language in the contracts.

Chairman Dana Laine said that if Ziegler knew about the contract language changes for the last few weeks, why didn't he bring them to Stender before the Monday meeting?

Ziegler said he brought them to the school board because it's what they were supposed to be voting on that morning.

Stender agreed that he sees where Ziegler is coming from and that the issue was past the superintendent level and had moved on to the board level.

"You've been pressured into doing this (at a public meeting)," he said. "Detroit Lakes doesn't negotiation these contracts or the superintendent contract at a public meeting."

Ziegler and Stender agreed to meet Wednesday morning to fix the language in the contracts, and then the contracts will be back on the agenda for the Friday 7 a.m. meeting. The Friday meeting had already been called to canvass the primary election results.