Natalie Knutson, Chair

Committees: Finance Committee; Buildings & Grounds; Policy Committee; Wellness Committee

Negotiations: Special Education Paraprofessionals; District-wide Individual Contracts

Term ends: 2024

Email: nknutson@fergusotters.org

Melanie Cole, Vice Chair

Committees: Spec Ed. Coop & Region I Board; Meet & Confer

Negotiations: Certified staff; Special Education Paraprofessionals

Term ends: 2026

Email: mcole@fergusotters.org

Phone: 218-205-4854

Kirby Anderson, Treasurer

Committees: Finance Committee; 544 Education Foundation; Activities Committee

Negotiations: Principals

Term ends: 2026

Email: kirbyanderson@fergusotters.org

Phone: 218-770-7161

Melissa Hermes, Clerk

Committees: Curriculum Review; Policy Committee

Negotiations: Certified staff; Food Service

Term ends: 2026

Email: mhermes@fergusotters.org

Matthew Lemke

Committees: MN State HS League & Co-Curricular; Activities Committee; Finance Committee; Buildings & Grounds

Negotiations: Certified staff; Principals; Secretaries & Custodians

Term ends: 2024

Email: mlemke@fergusotters.org

Phone: 218-731-1385

Stephen Vigesaa

Committees: Activities Committee; Policy Committee; Buildings & Grounds; Staff Development

Negotiations: Principals; Secretaries & Custodians; Title 1 Paras & Para Educators

Term ends: 2024

Email: svigesaa@fergusotters.org

Phone: 507-993-5941

The regular meeting of the School Board of Independent School District No. 544 was held in the Otter Community Room at the Kennedy Secondary School. Chair Natalie Knutson called the meeting to order at 5:15 pm. The following members were present: Kirby Anderson, Missy (Melissa) Hermes, Natalie Knutson, Matthew Lemke, and Stephen Vigesaa. Melanie Cole was absent. Jeff Drake, Superintendent, Renae Macheledt, Finance Director, and Elaine Jahnke, HR Director, were also present. 

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all present. 

Missy Hermes, clerk, established a quorum. 

Stephen Vigesaa made a motion to approve the agenda as presented. The motion was seconded by Matthew Lemke and carried unanimously. 

Kirby Anderson offered the resolution of acknowledgements for the following and moved for its adoption:

Thank you to the Otter PTO for their donation for books to Cleveland Elementary School.

The motion was seconded by Missy Hermes and upon roll call vote being taken, the following voted in favor thereof: Kirby Anderson, Missy Hermes, Natalie Knutson, Matthew Lemke, and Stephen Vigesaa; 

and the following voted against same: 

None. 

Whereupon said motion was declared duly passed and the resolution adopted.  

Reports were presented by: 

  • Derek Abrahams, Activities Director - Winter Sports Update
  • Kirby Anderson – 544 Education Foundation, Finance, Activities
  • Missy Hermes – Curriculum Review, Policy
  • Natalie Knutson – Wellness, Buildings & Grounds, Policy
  • Matthew Lemke – MSHSL
  • Stephen Vigesaa – Staff Development 

Melanie Cole entered the meeting at 5:36 pm

  • Jeff Drake  – Superintendent / Update on District Goals

General Consent Items

The following consent agenda was presented for approval: 

  1. Minutes from the March 26, 2024 regular School Board meeting 
  2. Bills and Treasurer’s Report - reviewed by Matthew Lemke and Kirby Anderson:

General Fund

$2,054,697.90

Food Service

$68,880.68

Community Service

$23,805.08

Building Fund

$750,025.00

Debt Service

$500.00

Trust & Agency

$3,867.15

Activities

$27,681.43

TOTAL

$2,929,457.24

 

  1. Personnel

Support Staff Hires: 

  • Melissa Rastedt, long-term substitute special education paraprofessional @ McKinley; effective 3/13/2024-4/30/2024
  • Marlene Anderson, noon hour supervisor @ KSS; effective 4/8/2024

Support Staff Resignations:

  • Jennifer Endris, special education paraprofessional @ KSS; last day 4/12/2024
  • Thomas Hagge, para educator @ Adams; last day - end of 2023-24 school year

Certified Staff Hire: 

  • Myrna Minoza, ESL teacher (1 FTE); effective 8/26/2024
  1. Letter of Intent to Negotiate for the 2024-2026 School Years: Fergus Falls Para Educators Association 

Melanie Cole moved to approve the consent agenda. The motion was seconded by Stephen Vigesaa and carried unanimously. 

Old Business: 

None

New Business:  

  1. Matthew Lemke offered the resolution and moved for its adoption:

RESOLUTION DISCONTINUING AND REDUCING EDUCATIONAL POSITIONS AND 

PROGRAMS

WHEREAS, the School Board of Independent School District No. 544 adopted a resolution on January 22, 2024, directing the administration to make recommendations for reductions in programs and positions, and

WHEREAS, said recommendations have been received and considered by the School Board,

BE IT RESOLVED, by the School Board of Independent School District No. 544, as follows:

That the following programs and positions, or portions thereof, be discontinued:

Certified Staff Positions:

  1. Elementary - 3 FTEs
  2. Reading Interventionists - 2 FTEs
  3. FCS -.1667 FTE (MS)
  4. Social Studies - .1667 FTE (MS)
  5. Business - .25 FTE (HS)
  6. Social Studies - .1667 (HS)
  7. World Language - .1667 FTE (HS)
  8. REACH - .5 FTE (HS)
  9. Language Arts - .08 FTE
  10. School Counselor - 1 FTE 
  11. Art - .25 FTE (iQ)
  12. Business - .333 FTE (iQ)
  13. Elementary/Reading Interventionist - .0456 FTE (iQ)
  14. FCS - .3333 FTE (iQ)
  15. Health - .1667 FTE (iQ)
  16. Math - .5832 FTE (iQ)
  17. Special Education - .4973 FTE (iQ) 
  18. World Language - .4585 FTE (iQ)

Support Staff Positions: 

  1. Special Education Paraprofessionals - 2 FTEs
  2. Title 1 Paraprofessionals - 3 FTEs
  3. School, Family, and Community Liaison

The motion was seconded by Kirby Anderson and upon roll call vote being taken, the following voted in favor thereof: Kirby Anderson, Melanie Cole, Missy Hermes, Natalie Knutson, Matthew Lemke, and Stephen Vigesaa;

and the following voted against same: 

None. 

Whereupon said motion was declared duly passed and the resolution adopted.  

  1. Missy Hermes offered the resolution and moved for its adoption: 

RESOLUTION APPOINTING ELECTION JUDGES FOR THE MAY 14, 2024 SCHOOL DISTRICT SPECIAL ELECTION

BE IT RESOLVED by the School Board of Independent School District No. 544, State of Minnesota, as follows:

  1. The individuals specified on EXHIBIT A attached hereto, each of whom is qualified to serve as an election judge, are hereby appointed as judges of election for the School District’s special election on May 14, 2024, to act as such at the combined polling places listed on said exhibit.
  2. The election judges shall act as clerks of election, count the ballots cast, and submit the results to the School Board for canvass in the manner provided for other school district elections.
  3. The School District Clerk and the Clerk’s designee are hereby authorized to appoint additional election judges, as needed, to fill vacancies that may occur on or before election day.

The motion was seconded by Melanie Cole and upon roll call vote being taken, the following voted in favor thereof: Kirby Anderson, Melanie Cole, Missy Hermes, Natalie Knutson, Matthew Lemke, and Stephen Vigesaa;

and the following voted against same: 

None. 

Whereupon said motion was declared duly passed and the resolution adopted. 

  1. Matthew Lemke moved to approve revisions to the 2023-24 School District Calendar:
  • May 23, 2024 is changed to a 3-hour early out for students and last day of school
  • 9/10 month certified/support staff will make up one contract day (from the March 25, 2024 snow day closure) that will be served following their original scheduled last work day (date prior to the snow day) for the 2023-24 school year

The motion was seconded by Melanie Cole and carried unanimously.

  1. Missy Hermes moved to approve the Chief Boiler Engineer License Agreement between Wade Nibbe and ISD 544 Fergus Falls Public Schools; effective April 1, 2024. The motion was seconded by Stephen Vigesaa and carried unanimously.
  2. Matthew Lemke moved to approve the Client Service Agreement between USI Insurance Services LLC and ISD 544 Fergus Falls Public Schools; effective May 1, 2024. The motion was seconded by Melanie Cole and carried unanimously.

The next regular School Board meeting will be held at 5:15 pm Monday, April 22, 2024 in the Otter Community Room at the Kennedy Secondary School.  

Kirby Anderson made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 5:58 pm. The motion was seconded by Stephen Vigesaa and carried unanimously. 

A work session followed the regular board meeting.