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Frazee district reduces community ed position

One more step in the restructuring at Frazee-Vergas School District was approved Monday night as the community education director position was cut from 260 days to 190.

Very little discussion was held on the matter Monday night, but Superintendent Chuck Cheney said Tuesday that this has been talked about for more than a year under plans for the district to restructure.

The board also did some restructuring last month by hiring an elementary principal and getting away from the dean of students role at the elementary school. There will now be principals at each school instead of the K-12 principal and dean of students positions.

“I think the restructuring is essentially done,” Cheney said. “We began after the first of the year in 2012; there was discussion on the length of that contract (for the community education director).”

Lori Thorp holds the community education director position.

Cheney added that this has been a topic of discussion since he came to the district nearly two years ago. Board members felt the 260-day contract needed to be looked at, he added.

“When you look at the districts around us, as far as licensed folks in that kind of a job, it’s kind of way out beyond the norm.”

He said it certainly wasn’t a knee-jerk decision, but after looking at other districts, the participation in community education programs and such, it was determined to cut a portion of days in the contract.

The board approved placing Thorp on unrequested leave for 70 days effective June 30.

“To my knowledge, none of (the summer) activities will change,” Cheney said.

Some of the organizations that will be hosting events will be “more on their own for collecting fees, kind of doing their own business piece rather than having community ed involved,” he said.

“Beyond that, I think we’re going to function as normally as before. But I think there will be some changes primarily in the summer.”

 Monday night, board member Jim Nelson said he felt that 161 days was doable as the district had in the past, but that he would go along with the 190 if the rest of the board wanted that.

He added that he is concerned about the balance of the community education fund being low even after the 70-day reduction.

“I’m sure the taxpayers wouldn’t want us subsidizing the community education fund with the general fund,” he said.

Other action taken at the school board meeting included:

  • The Wolf Lake, Frazee and Vergas Lions Clubs are supporting a high school version of the service club called Leo, or Leadership, Experience, Opportunity. The group is for students ages 12-17, and they will plan their own activities, elect officers and do projects similar to Lions Clubs. The Leo Lions are also covered under the Lions’ $1 million insurance policy. Twenty students are needed to charter the Leo club, and hopefully it will be established in about a month. The school board agreed to let the club meet on school grounds, but the district won’t have to contribute any funding for the club.
  • The board discussed reinstating financial support to the coaching staff for junior varsity sports again this month but still won’t have a vote until the June meeting. Board members still weren’t satisfied with the numbers for each sport, agreeing that they want a formula of sorts to determine that if there are X number of students in a certain sport, that warrants hiring X number of coaches. Activities Director Dave Trautman said each sport is different regarding the number of coaches needed per student. Cheney said they would come up with a list of recommendations with those numbers for the next meeting.
  • Nominations for the Frazee Hall of Fame (a first in the district) are due to Trautman by June 1.
  • The board agreed to join a swimming cooperative with Perham and New York Mills, meaning students in Frazee who are interested in swimming for sport can participate in Perham. Students will have to provide their own means of transportation though. “I think it’s a great thing — just another activity for kids,” board chair Matt Bauer said.
  • The board approved the football program joining the Heart of Lakes Classic division.
  • The board approved contracts for both the new activities director and elementary principal.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.