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Dassel-Cokato School Board thanks staff, students, and communities for compassion; fills board vacancy
Sept. 29, 2017

Nan Royce
Staff Writer

DASSEL, COKATO, MN – The Dassel-Cokato School Board met in regular session Monday night, and expressed gratitude to its students, staff, and communities for their compassion surrounding the death of DC student Jacob MacDonald last week.

“It’s been overwhelmingly hard,” Superintendent Jeff Powers said. “I’ve seen compassion from kids, teachers, staff members. I’m thankful for the support people had for each other.”

Powers expressed appreciation to Dassel-Cokato’s surrounding communities, which had members volunteering immediate assistance if needed.

“I could have had 30 counselors and pastors here within an hour,” Powers said. “I’m so thankful for all of those things.”

Proud to be DC

School Board Chair Rebecca Clemen echoed Powers’ sentiments. “I’d like to express appreciation to all of our staff and our district,” she said. “They have handled, and continue to handle a very difficult week.”

Clemen said she recently attended a meeting outside the DC district, and received compliments about the compassionate natures of DC district staff and students.

“I am extremely proud to be a part of this district,” she concluded.

Filling the board vacancy

Board members switched their focus to the vacancy left by Councilor Shane Colberg’s Sept. 22 resignation.

Powers advised the board members of their options. He explained board vacancies mid-term are to be filled through board resolution.

When vacancies occur within 90 days of a general election, an appointed member can fill the position until the following general election, which would occur in November 2018 in this case.

Powers indicated the board could also choose to hold a special election. The first opportunity for a special election would be Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. Powers pointed out a special election would cost the district a minimum of $10,000.

Powers recommended to the board that it appoint a person to fill the vacancy, and then include the position in the November 2018 general election.

Powers said he had reviewed the vote tallies from the most recent school board election.

He noted that candidate Andy Engh missed election to the school board by 134 votes.

Powers indicated he had spoken to Engh, who had agreed to accept a board appointment if it was offered to him.

Powers concluded his explanation by telling the board that once appointed, a 30-day waiting period would go into effect, giving the public a chance to contest the appointment.

Board members discussed the options. Chuck Nelson thought appointing Engh made the most sense.

“He got 2,000 votes a year ago from the community,” he said. “I believe the community would support this. Andy has a good business head on his shoulders.”

Bill Aho agreed. “He was a candidate on the list who showed interest and desire,” he commented.

The board voted to appoint Engh to fill the vacancy on the board.

Odds and ends

In other business, the board:

• approved Christina Clark and Mark Benoit to the curriculum advisory committee.

• certified the proposed 2017, payable 2018 levy, agreeing to request the maximum, and lowering that request as possible, prior to a Monday, Dec. 11 Truth in Taxation public hearing.

• ratified contracts for: school service employees Local 284, the food service secretary, the community education secretary, the bookkeeper, the payroll clerk, the school-age child care site supervisor, and the community education program coordinator.

• approved a potential trip to Orlando, FL for the cheerleading team, should the team qualify for the national cheerleading competition.

• welcomed to the board new student representative David Kivisto.

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