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US Foods : Fergus Falls School Board discusses teacher retirements, bids

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02/13/2018 | 03:55pm EST

Feb. 13--Retirements and bidding took up much of Monday's Fergus Falls School Board meeting, with four bids discussed and six retirement resolutions.

Mark Masten, business manager, took the lead on explaining the four different bid approvals being sought.

The first was a call for 403(b) vendor bids, which Masten explained was more of a request for proposals. A 403(b) plan is a tax-advantaged retirement plan for public school employees. This bidding is in response to being approached by the teachers union to review the process and go out for bids again to see if there were better products available at a lesser cost, Masten explained. The last time bids for 403(b) were taken was in the 2008-2009 school year and there are currently five vendors available, which is hoping to be reduced after this process. The call for bids was approved by the board.

The call for roofing re-bids for Kennedy Secondary School was also approved after the preliminary bids were rejected by the board after it was decided to reevaluate the specifications for the bids. The new bids will be due by March 20.

The third and final food bid of the school year was accepted. US Foods was the only bidder this round, coming in at $63,189.45. The call was sent out to five vendors, so receiving only one bid back was slightly disconcerting, according to Masten, although US Foods has won the last two bids for the district, their bidding hasn't fluctuated much.

The last bid approved was a call for wireless network bids, due to the wireless network needs growing in the schools, especially at Kennedy Secondary School.

"When we designed the access points, we planned on 30 units in a classroom. Now we're planning more in the neighborhood of 100 in each classroom," Masten said. This is due to the increase in iPads and the expansion of other technologies that have become vital to the classrooms. Just this month, Masten said they had to buy 17 new units to be ready for testing in March.

The only item of new business not regarding retirements or bidding was the approval of the 2018-2019 calendar for the Fergus Falls Public Schools. Superintendent Jerry Ness noted the biggest difference is an added staff development day to be used as a pilot day for teachers to ready their classrooms. Graduation will also be moved up to May 24, due to a shorter holiday break.

Resolutions 6-11 thanked retiring employees for their service in the school district:

--Jill Damrau, a first-grade teacher at Adams Elementary School, will retire after 19 years with the school district at the end of the school year.

--Susan (Sue) Hanneman, a Title 1 teacher at Adams Elementary School, will retire at the end of the school year after 43 years.

--Joyce Monk, longtime physical education teacher for the school district, will retire after 37 years at the end of the school year.

--Laurie Strom, a music teacher at Kennedy Secondary School, will retire at the end of the school year after the past 26 years in the district.

--Joni Wasberg, music teacher at Cleveland Elementary School, will retire at the end of the school year after 41 years.

--Miles Anderson will retire from his custodial work with the district on March 31, after 19 years with Fergus Falls Public Schools.

"We really appreciate our staff that is retiring letting us know at this time," Ness said, noting that this allows for more time to fill the positions and increases the pool of candidates.

Support staff resignations approved on general consent items were Sara Koch, special education paraprofessional; Katie Drussell, special education paraprofessional; Vanessa Burlingame, paraeducator; Tracey Buhl, special education paraprofessional; and Zach Paulson, noon hour supervisor. Support staff hires at this time are Leah Tysdal, special education paraprofessional; Connie Cederberg, special education paraprofessional; and Tori Hoglo, noon hour supervisor.

The last item of business for general consent items was the notice of desire to negotiate with the Minnesota School Employees Association, the union for custodial/secretarial personnel and with the Fergus Falls Para-Educator Association.

Board members also gave their reports and correspondence updates at Monday's meeting. Matthew Lemke, had updates on the Lakes Country Service Co-op and the Minnesota State High School League.

"The National Joint Powers Alliance, the NJPA, and Lakes Country Service Co-op are now together, so that allows all members, which we are one of the members, to use their contract to be able to basically get a better price on different equipment," Lemke said.

For the MSHSL, Lemke said that new rules will go into effect this golf season and that they are looking into making bass fishing a sanctioned sport through the league, which would become official in August of 2019 if approved.

Blaine Danielson announced that the 544 Education Foundation was up to 496 members on their way to their 500 goal.

For buildings and grounds, Danielson said that they are preparing for the pool work taking place this summer as well as looking at the preliminary steps for the new heat pump for Adams Elementary School.

At Meet and Confer, the committee approved the 2018-2019 school year calendar that was approved by the school board.

Stephen Vigesaa, legislative liaison, noted that main concerns were coming in response to the new tax bill.

Regarding municipal bonds for schools, like the ones that the district were able to pre-refund last year to save taxpayers around $300,000, would not be able to be pre-refunded according to the bill, Vigesaa said. He noted that with interest rates at a higher level currently, it shouldn't be a problem for districts, but in a falling interest rate environment, it could hurt.

"We were fortunate we got it done when we did," Danielson about the municipal bond refunds.

Another significant change Vigesaa noted was to the Section 529 plans.

"There are college saving plans that you get a deduction to put the money in and if you use the money for a college you get to take the money out earning everything tax-free. Previously, it was only for college, but now they've expanded that to prep school, secondary school, private schools, for up to $10,000," Vigesaa said. With $10,000 being about enough to cover private high school tuition, the concern is that could encourage parents to pull their children out of public school.

After the school board meeting adjourned, the board met for the long-term facility committee meeting that was planned to focus on the Heritage Building.

___

(c)2018 the Fergus Falls Daily Journal (Fergus Falls, Minn.)

Visit the Fergus Falls Daily Journal (Fergus Falls, Minn.) at www.fergusfallsjournal.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

© Tribune Content Agency, source Regional News

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