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Sing it loud -- Frazee will bring back fall musical

The Frazee-Vergas School District is reinstating its fall musical, with some assistance from community education.

Community Education Director Sharyl Ogard asked the school board Monday night to bring back the play and help balance out the arts offered by the school district.

She said community ed would help with the cost of the productions, and if the school charged an activity fee, it would help lower the cost as well.

High School Counselor Ta Fett, who has also been involved with directing plays for many years, said the school board supports 10 sports at the high school and only one arts program, the one-act play during the winter. Students need "balanced opportunities," she said.

She also pointed out that several teachers are being hired and are always asked if they are willing to coach a sport. This would be the perfect time and opportunity to be asking if they would help with musicals as well.

Ogard and Fett brought along student Lauren Daggett, who has been involved in productions in the past and was disappointed when the program was cut due to funding. She was part of a production in Perham, which she said was nice, but not the same.

"It was one of the best high school experiences I had while here," she said of her time in the high school production in Frazee.

Fett said after the musical was cut last year, she heard a lot of feedback and concern, but that feedback has tapered off this year.

"People settle, you just can't do that," she said.

Although the board was supportive, they also questioned if this would be the start of several extra curricular activities asking funding to be reinstated.

"Everyone wants to have everything back," board member Rich Zeigler said.

With funding from community education and the proposed $60 per student fee, the district would be funding about $2,000 for the musical.

Dwight Cook amended the original motion of support to delete the $60 activity fee, because other activities don't require it. The amended proposal passed unanimously, reinstating the fall musical.

Also at the school board meeting, the board agreed that adding community education director to Superintendent Deron Stender's list of duties wouldn't be in the best interest of the district.

With Ogard retiring at the end of the school year, the district advertised for her position, which needs to be a licensed position.

Stender proposed to the board last month that he take courses for a year and receive that licensure, so the district could have him as the licensed person to sign off on paperwork, and then the district could hire someone right for the job that didn't happen to be licensed.

"No offense," Zeigler told him Monday night, "but I'm led to believe you're spreading yourself too thin."

Instead, he said, the district needs to hire someone who can spend the time committing to the program, which has grown exponentially under Ogard, and not let the program falter.

The district needs to spend the extra money to get the right person in the position, he added.

The district has received 14 applications for the position -- four with licensure and 10 without. The interviewing process has not yet started.

"If we have people with licensure and they accept the salary and hours, we should take it," Cook said.

The position wasn't advertised, but plans call for it to be a minimum of .89, not quite full time. Cook said he was thinking the position should pay at least $15 to $20 an hour.

Board member Nancy Dashner said she'd like the definition of community education thought out a bit more, because it has changed over the years -- changing from arts and crafts to more technology.

"There are so many strings coming at us," she said of the entire process, adding that it is too early to make any decisions as to whom to hire.

The board agreed that Dashner and Stender would meet to define where community ed is headed and what to do about hiring the right person to fill the position of director.

Also at the board meeting:

-- Members recognized teachers retiring this year, who have a combined 244 years with the school district. They are Tom Orvik, Steve Carlson, Elaine Palmer, Cheryl Hiemenz, Tim Riley, Sharyl Ogard, Darlene Carlisle and Margaret Kasowski.

-- Jason McCloskey, owner and coach of the Lake Area Screaming Eagles, presented the board with a check for the use of the high school football field. He said it is less than two weeks until kick-off of the newly formed football team and "everything is running smoothly."

Tickets for home games will be $5. The first game, May 24 at 5 p.m., is against Fargo-Moorhead Liberty.

"They are very talented, but I think we are too," he said.

The Screaming Eagles team is made up of 40 men hailing from New York Mills to Grand Forks and many towns in between.

"It's what I wanted," McCloskey said. "A good representation of the area."

The team is still looking for volunteers to take tickets, run the clock, work the chain gang, etc.

-- Two students from the Youth Advisory Council spoke to the board about what students have been concerned with this year. Some of the topics topping the list include securing the varsity locker rooms because of theft problems, looking at getting Advance Placement classes, weighted grades (where students can have grade point averages of more than 4.0), online textbooks and student open hour.

-- The district will write a letter of intent to sign with McKinstry Co. to revamp the air ventilation and sprinkler systems in the schools. This phase of the project will cost $3.3 million, to be levied for over 20 years under the health and safety fund. Phase 1 was to replace the boilers in the high school at a cost of $1.1 million.

-- High School Principal Terry Karger said the high school is cutting back on some of the multiple classes being offered and adding more of a variety of classes like forensic science and environmental studies.