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Media task force?

The Frazee-Vergas School District is going back to once a month meetings, looking at starting a school newspaper and likely forming a media relations task force.

School Superintendent Deron Stender said that with summer here, he came up with several ideas to present to the board, and Monday morning they were discussed and several voted on.

It's no secret there have been public image issues surrounding the school district for quite some time. To mend that, the district is looking at forming a media relations task force.

Stender said the task force, working in conjunction with The Frazee Forum newspaper, would show the community the district is trying to improve its image and "look for an opportunity to resolve issues and move forward."

In his brief to the board, he described the task force as "the district can select two district residents and the Frazee Forum can select two residents to meet with a maximum of two District and two Frazee Forum representatives. The goal is to improve communications, support, relationships, clarify expectations, and image."

Relations ideas and suggestions would then come from the task force and not the superintendent. People on the task force would be from the community, not board members. It's finding those people -- those unbiased people -- that will be the issue, though.

"That is like trying to find a jury (after) a well-publicized case," Stender said.

Board member Don Thorpe said he felt the task force was a "good endeavor," but that the district needed to find out from Frazee Forum owners Delair and Gale Kaas if they are willing to participate.

Board members encouraged Stender to move forward with the proposal, and member Rich Ziegler offered to be the lead person to talk to the Kaases.

"This is just a thought," Stender said. "It's not to find any (organization) guilty."

Another way to help with public image and information, Stender suggested, is to bring back the school newspaper.

"That's the biggest lesson I learned," he said of never cutting a school-published newspaper. "It doesn't have to be fancy.

"Before any article goes out of our district, it's on our Web, it comes from us," he added.

The board talked about how the student- and staff-driven paper could post news items online at the school's website, and then also provide some hard copies of the newspaper for those who don't have computer access.

Besides giving the school and its students a voice, Thorpe said the student-run paper would give teens more experience in writing, editing, layout and design and computer programs.

One way to shed more light on the board is the possibility of broadcasting the school board meetings.

"Transparency is the word," Stender said. "There are over 4,000 people that vote, you have 10 here," he added of the Monday board meeting audience.

Discussion of whether to air the meetings on TV3 or stream it on the school's website was held.

"It's not a bad idea," board member Dwight Cook said, adding that he wants to see what the cost associated with it would be for a couple scenarios.

"It's showing the public that's you're trying," Cook added.

All of those items will be on future agendas when more information is available.

And finally, during the summer, the board meets at 7 a.m., but once school begins again, the district will go back to 6 p.m. meetings. The regular meeting is the second Monday of the month, and additional meetings will be scheduled as needed throughout the school year.