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Frazee considers online courses

The Frazee-Vergas School Board is looking at ideas to retain students and keep them happy with their choice to stay in the district.

First of all, students are being given the opportunity to select their own classes, besides the core requirements. Principal Brian Koslofsky said students are registering this month so they will know their schedules for next fall sooner.

He said he and staff are looking into six-period days versus seven-period days as well. He plans to have more information for the board in the future on that subject.

The second major change that could come for Frazee-Vergas students is the opportunity to go online.

"It'll change the look of this school," Koslofsky said.

He said he is looking into a regional teacher to assist students in area schools to be able to take classes online rather than the traditional classroom setting.

He said he recently had a mother take her child out of the school system to take classes online through an online school based in the Twin Cities, and he said he would have liked to have been able to offer that student online classes here instead.

Rather than having area schools compete with each other, he said he'd like to see a "regional base" offering the secondary classes at each school. There would also be post secondary classes offered.

Superintendent Deron Stender said Gov. Tim Pawlenty is very serious about online schools, so the district needs to be looking at options to stay in business.

Also at the school board meeting:

- Newly elected board members Steve Jepson and Keith Janu and incumbent Dana Laine were sworn in at the start of the meeting. Laine was re-elected chair of the board, and Kathy Kallis was elected vice chair, Janu was named clerk, and Nancy Dashner was voted to return as treasurer.

The board members also went through a list of 18 committees they wished to be appointed to.

- After argumentative, yet respectful, discussion, the board agreed to have Garland Company go forward on a project that will replace the schools' roofs.

There is approximately 70,000 square feet of roofing that needs to be replaced, and Garland Company guarantees there will be no maintenance for 30 years.

"In the long term, this is a cheaper solution," School Board member Dwight Cook said, pointing out that there would be no maintenance costs for 30 years even if the initial cost was more expensive.

By going through Garland Company, he added, if anything should go wrong, Garland is fully responsible to fix it. With other companies, he said, the blame gets passed around between engineers, roofers, architects, etc., and the district ends up paying for the repairs.

Jepson spoke up, saying he had talked to Herzog Roofing in Detroit Lakes, and that the board may be "selling ourselves short" by not letting other companies offer their opinions and make a presentation.

A Garland Company representative said the company has raised its bar for quality so high that Herzog wouldn't be able to do the work it does.

Board member Rich Zeigler said he agreed with Jepson and that the board should at least look at other options.

"At least let a local company come out and make a presentation," he said.

Cook went on to say the standard couldn't be met and that the board should move forward with Garland.

"Did you know the standard before listening (to the Garland presentation), or did you let them set the standard for you," Jepson questioned.

Dashner raised her hand to say she didn't feel the discussion was needed because the board has committees for a reason, and that those in opposition should put their faith in the building and maintenance committee members and their recommendation.

That didn't stop discussion though.

"There are always exceptions to those rules," Zeigler replied to Dashner's comment. The board takes into consideration the recommendation, but the issues are always up for discussion.

"I want information, is my point," he added.

"These were my concerns, too," agreed Janu, but after going to the building and ground meeting with Garland representatives, he had his concerns addressed and agreed Garland was the way to go.

"What would be wrong with letting Herzog come in," Zeigler once again asked.

"I don't think we should have their type of roof on our school," Cook said. "It's not high-quality enough."

He added that he felt it was a waste of time to have Herzog come before the board because they don't have the same type of roof that Garland offers.

The board voted in favor of Garland Company, with Zeigler voting opposed.

- Representatives from McKinstry Co. spoke briefly that the work being done on the school is on track, and that the second phase of the project at the elementary school will start this spring.

The sprinkler system in the elementary school will be installed beginning the first Monday when school is out for summer vacation.

Lighting fixtures will also be replaced, and some heating fixtures will be changed as well. Carbon dioxide levels will also be measured in each classroom.

- Students and teacher Lisa Peterson presented to the board on the Family And Consumer Science class and the mock wedding they are preparing to hold.

Peterson said the wedding is just a small part of the project. She also teaches students about relationships, dating, dating violence, communication, compromise and preparation that goes into a wedding.

Students said the process is eye opening when students see the preparation and costs that go into a wedding.

- Lori Thorp with community education said registration is going well and classes are filling up. The two programs the school hosts for 3 year olds (3's Alone) and 4 year olds (Kinder Quest) are full, with kids on waiting lists.

Cook said he'd like Thorp to look into the cost difference between adding more classes to bring in more students, compared to keeping the program scaled back and keeping a waiting list.

He said by bringing in more students at an early age, that is potentially more students that will enter kindergarten in the Frazee district and continue there.