By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Within minutes of taking the oath of office, Lester Prairie School Board’s two newest members found themselves faced with tough questions from the audience.
During the public comment period of Tuesday’s meeting, resident Marc Sebora addressed the board.
He said he hoped the board would reconsider its recent decision not to extend the pairing agreement with Holy Trinity beyond the current school year.
During its Dec. 13 meeting, the board voted to terminate its pairing agreement with Holy Trinity at the end of the current school year, and offer Holy Trinity a two-year cooperative agreement instead.
Sebora said the pairing issue is important to him, his family, and to the relationships between students from the two schools.
He said he agreed with recent letters to the editor about the pairing situation, particularly one written by Troy Feltmann (which expressed support for a pairing agreement between the schools).
Sebora then asked the two newest board members, Gregg Machemehl and Matthew Klitzke, who were not on the board when the decision was made, what they think about the pairing situation, and whether they thought the board might re-visit the issue.
Machemehl said he would like to gather the facts before commenting on the issue.
Klitzke said he had seen the letters as well, but said he would have to see more information before commenting on the situation. He added that he does not have children who are students in the district.
None of the board members gave any commitment as to whether the board might revisit the pairing question in the future.
The board recognized the two outgoing board members for their years of service, and presented them with plaques.
Chester Hoernemann served the district for 17.5 years. Fred Blaser served the district for 12 years.
“You are going to learn a lot, fast,” Hoernemann said, addressing the new board members.
Blaser said he served through good times and bad, and it is a lot easier to sit on the board in good times.
He said, in view of current conditions, he is glad the board has been as conservative as it has been.
Board member Bob Carlson, who was elected to a new term in November, was named chair to replace Blaser.
Carlson said Blaser has served as a mentor, and it was Blaser who convinced him to run for a seat on the board.
Joe Miller was elected vice chairperson, Rawelin Radtke was elected treasurer, and Karla Heigl was elected clerk.
The board approved the same salary rate for 2011 as in 2010. Board members receive $40 for meetings of three hours or less, $90 for four to six hours, and $140 for six hours or more.
The board also approved extra pay of $30 per meeting for the clerk, $15 per meeting for the treasurer and chairperson, and $10 per meeting for the negotiations chair.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• responded to a question from Sebora about a possible referendum. Superintendent Mike McNulty explained that the board authorized two companies to review and put together recommendations regarding needed improvements to the school building.
He said the companies are in the research and information gathering stage, and will later give the board cost estimates for different options.
• scheduled the next board meeting Monday, Feb. 7 (due to Presidents Day falling on the third Monday, which would be the normal meeting date).
• designated Herald Journal as the official legal publication for the district.
• designated Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney as the district’s legal counsel.
• approved the addition of Lisa Feltmann as a non-certified para.
• scheduled a board retreat Monday, Feb. 7, following the regular board meeting.