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Frazee-Vergas School District saves money in business managers' replacements

The Frazee-Vergas School District has decided to contract with Lakes Country Service Cooperative to replace its two retiring business managers.

The district was paying about $137,000 for business managers Donna Mineer and Diane Menz, and the contract through Lakes Country Service Coop is for about $107,000.

Through Lakes Country Services Coop, there will be an assistant business office employee working in the district's office full time.

There will then be a business manager who will be in the Frazee office two days a week. Once the routine is set, that cold change to one day a week somewhere down the road.

Both employees will be contracted through Lakes Country Service Coop, which is located in Fergus Falls.

The business of the district will continue the same, with the duties of payroll and payroll services, accounts payable, accounts receivable, activity accounts, monthly financial reports, budget, levy, investments and any other business-related duties being taken care by Lakes Country Service Cooperative.

The district also advertised to hire a business manager and assistant manager. It received about six applicants for the manager position and 10 for the assistant position, ranging from no experience to some experience.

"There is a lot more background in school finance at Lakes Country," board member Jim Nelson said compared to the applications the district received.

Superintendent Deron Stender said he just wanted to make the board and public aware that "the culture and climate will have to change" with contracting through Lakes Country Service Cooperative, which is doable. Since there will only be a business manager onsite two days a week, data information requests will take longer to receive.

Also, the manager will only be in attendance at one school board meeting per quarter, so no more billing questions at meetings as the board has been practicing now.

A few other surrounding districts are contracting with Lakes Country Service Cooperative, including Perham and Hawley, and are having success with it, board member Matt Bauer said.

"With the network of people and six other schools, there's that expertise," he said. "That level of knowledge (is beneficial)."

Board member Dana Laine said she wants to make sure the assistant who works full time in the district office is trained in data privacy issues.

Given the reputation of Lakes Country Service Cooperative, the retirements and the district's budget, board member Keith Janu said, "I think it is a good move for the district."

The motion to contract with Lakes Country Service Cooperative passed unanimously.

The next regular school board meeting will be Tuesday, June 14, at 7 a.m. in the Media Center.