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One steps forward to question Frazee-Vergas School District

About half a dozen people showed up for the open forum at Frazee-Vergas School District, but only one asked questions.

Mary Lepisto asked multiple questions of the board Monday evening, from why the open forum wasn't sent out on Instant Alert (didn't think about that) to why money is being spent to fund televisions in the school.

Supporting an online school?

Lepisto asked, based on a site visit to the Fergus Falls school, how Frazee-Vergas could support an online school of 200 students and 30 teachers when the school struggles to support the existing teachers.

Superintendent Deron Stender said that first the school would do a cost analysis to make sure it is feasible to have the online school offered in Frazee.

Just because Fergus Falls had 200 students and 30 teachers doesn't mean the same numbers would work for Frazee.

He added that there may be existing instructors at the school that could help with the online teaching, and therefore not all new teachers would need to be hired to fill the positions.

The district would not offer a course that is too expensive for the district to cover, he reiterated.

Small-town school or college?

Lepisto also asked about whether Frazee was hosting a 7-12 facility or a college because of televisions in the hallway, SMART boards being used, etc.

"This is a 7-12 facility we want to promote ... but it is like a college facility ... and we're treating them like adults as much as possible," Principal Brian Koslofsky said.

The televisions weren't purchased with money coming from the school budget but instead through the pop (which are actually filled with water, juice and sports drinks and not pop) and other vending machines. The money generated from the machines is used to enhance the school.

The televisions, which are mounted in the hallways, are used for announcements throughout the day, which saves time reading announcements every hour or every day, Koslofsky said.

There are also paid advertisers on the television, so that money helps pay for the televisions as well.

"We're very, very efficient" in getting donations, grants and donated services for the extras around the school, Stender added.

Necessary to spend so much cosmetically this year?

Finally, Lepisto asked if it was really necessary for the school to spend "like a kid in a candy store" this year on cosmetic items (like paint, lockers and carpet) and not put it off a year.

Stender explained that the custodial staff, during the summer, works half at the elementary and half at the high school. With the elementary school under construction last summer, the custodial staff would have been cut back for the summer.

Instead, the school used the custodial staff to paint and do the other cosmetic items to keep them fully employed throughout the summer, and to not have to hire out someone else to do the work.