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School board begins new meeting schedule, superintendent's performance evaluated

Though they were all smiles in this January photo, the Detroit Lakes School Board tasked Superintendent Doug Froke (far right) with a few things to work on following a Feb. 11 job performance evaluation. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

This past January, the Detroit Lakes School Board approved a new meeting schedule to be implemented in March.

The board officially began its new meeting schedule this Monday, with a work session that included no official board action, but plenty of discussion on a variety of topics.

From this point forward, the board will hold a work session on the second Monday of each month, with the regular meeting to take place on the following Monday.

The work sessions will be held at the Detroit Lakes High School media center, and the regular meetings on the third Monday of the month will take place in the Detroit Lakes City Council Chambers. Both meetings will begin at 5:30 p.m. during the school year; summer meetings, from June through August, will start at 7 a.m.

Froke's performance evaluated

Monday night's work session started out with School Board Chair Amy Erickson reading a prepared statement, summarizing the results of a mid-year evaluation of Superintendent Doug Froke's job performance that was conducted by the board in closed session on Feb. 11 (at the conclusion of the regular board meeting).

In the statement read by Erickson, the board praised Froke, noting that the superintendent had "met or exceeded expectations in several important areas," but also rebuked him for falling below expectations in certain areas.

Froke was praised for his work in "curriculum development, maintaining good relationships with outside agencies, and staying up-to-date on statewide education issues."

"In particular," the statement reads, "the Superintendent has established and maintained a strong record of fiscal responsibility, and has provided excellent leadership in establishing financial stability for the district."

Conversely, Froke was criticized for his interpersonal communication skills: "While he did help to establish and develop an excellent administrative team, the Superintendent needs to immediately improve his skills in listening to and communicating with members of that team, in a consistently respectful, constructive, transparent and patient manner in all settings," the statement reads.

A follow-up evaluation of his performance will take place in approximately six months, "to ensure that Superintendent Froke has satisfactorily addressed the board's concerns."

Construction schedule update

Also at Monday's work session, Dan Kliest of Gertz Construction gave the board an update on the timetable for the district's $50 million renovation and construction project, which gets underway this summer and continues through 2021.

The first phase of the project, which includes renovations and additions at Rossman Elementary School, goes out for bids in early April — as soon as the Minnesota Department of Education has given its final stamp of approval.

The next phase of the project will take place at Detroit Lakes Middle School, followed by Roosevelt Elementary and Detroit Lakes High School, with all phases scheduled to be completed in time for the start of classes in the fall of 2021.

Strategic planning

The Detroit Lakes School Board and administration will soon begin work on a new strategic plan for the district, with the assistance of the Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA).

The MSBA will charge $4,300 for its services, which will include evaluation of three main components: Determining what are the good things happening in the district, what are the "must haves," and what needs to be done to develop new mission, vision and belief statements for the district's future.

Also at the work session, the board had a preliminary discussion of the budget preparation process for the 2019-2020 school year with Business Manager Ryan Tangen, and briefly discussed what to do if there is a fifth, or even sixth snow day yet this winter. They decided to hold off on the school calendar discussion until Monday's regular meeting, as another winter storm was expected to hit the region today (Wednesday), and they would have a better idea of what they would need to do next Monday.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 18-plus years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Detroit Lakes School Board. 

(218) 844-1454