Superintendent semi-finalist candidates were announced at the Jan. 21 regular session of the ISD 318 school board. Candidates went through first round interviews with the school board on Wednesday, Jan. 22 and Friday, Jan. 24.
School Exec Connect consultant Bob Ostlund gave the school board the names of the six candidates after the board moved to accept the list. Candidates include Sean Martinson, interim superintendent of Grand Rapids and Bigfork schools; Tim Truebenbach, superintendent of Milaca Public Schools; Kevin Wellen, superintendent of Menahga Public Schools; Jim Wagner, superintendent for Johnson County School District in Buffalo, Wyoming; Matt Grose, superintendent of Deer River and Nashwauk-Keewatin Public Schools; and Rochelle Johnson, superintendent of Cass-Lake Bena Public Schools.
Ostlund stated that out of 21 individuals who began the application process, 20 completed applications were submitted. Eight of the candidates were current superintendents and about three-quarters were from Minnesota. Jim Wagner from Wyoming was once a superintendent in Minnesota.
“All have very strong Minnesota connections, to say the least,” said Ostlund.
The community is invited to attend three upcoming community focus groups at the Ives Theater in the Reif Center to present questions to the superintendent candidates. The meetings will be held Jan. 27, 28, and 29 at 5 p.m.
Also announced at the meeting was the resignation of School Board Director Thomas Peltier, effective Feb. 15, 2020. The board accepted Peltier’s resignation, with all members adding “with regret” after stating their approval. Peltier will be relocating to Arizona in February according to a press release from the ISD 318 school district.
“It has been a pleasure to serve the citizens of District 318 over the past 17 years. I will bring with me fond memories of staff, citizens and the community,” Peltier said.
A former juvenile probation officer for Itasca County, Peltier has been involved in many community organizations that focus on supporting youth. Recently, Peltier was named to the 2020 Minnesota School Board Association All-State School Board.
“Tom’s 18-plus years of service to the school board will be missed,” said Board Chair Pat Medure. “He has great passion in wanting what’s best for the students of 318. And, as a board member, I will miss Tom for that. He has been an asset to the district.”
The school board will host a workshop Monday, March 9 in order to determine next steps for the vacant board seat. Peltier’s term expires on Dec. 31, 2020 and the position will be filled for a regular term with the general election on Nov. 3, 2020.
Noble field bids
School board members authorized the administration to publish a call for bids for the Noble Hall Field turf project. The Noble Hall Field Improvement Project Committee reached its goal of fundraising $700,000 according to a press release circulated earlier this week. An administrative report stated $535,000 of pledges will be due June 30, 2020 with another $91,000 due Dec. 30, 2020. Remaining pledges will come in the next two years.
“Our community rocks!” Mindy Nurhing, committee co-chair said of the improvement project. “They are always willing to donate time or money to help out the youth in this community. This is just another example of that support. It will be fantastic to have a new turf field for the community to use by August of 2020 along with the opening of the new elementary schools.”
The district will be able to determine if the project is within timeline parameters and budget with the calling for bids. Furthermore, school administration can now pursue a variety of financing options.
Sean Lewis with ICS Consulting gave an update regarding the progress of the Grand Rapids and Cohasset elementary schools construction. Currently, furniture selections are being finalized and orders will be made shortly.
At the East Grand Rapids elementary site production sheetrock is underway and roofing is almost finished. Interior framing is about 80% complete and MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) rough-in is underway. The west site has windows being installed and the brick facade going up. Built-up roofing is being carried out, as well as metal exterior and interior framing and MEP rough-in. Lastly, the Cohasset Elementary School has interior concrete slabs being installed over these next two weeks. Built-up roofing is close to complete and the brick facade is going well, according to Lewis.
Board members authorized administration to publish a call for bids for a cold storage building to be built behind the current bus garage with a driveway off of 11th Avenue, according to a report from the Director of Facilities Darin Cherne. The need for more storage is imminent as Forest Lake Elementary will be taken down in 2021 and the district’s largest storage area is currently under this very building. Items in storage include food service equipment, building supplies, classroom furniture, old records and more. Widseth/Smith/Nolting (WSN) architects were hired by the district this summer to conduct a study on where the best place would be for a new storage building. According to Cherne’s report, cost would range from $215,000 to $231,000 and would be assigned by the transportation fund balance which currently is at $2,384,465.
The school board approved the consent agenda which included the following retirements and resignations: Jean Anderson, teacher retirement; Connie Braiedy, teacher retirement; Jesse Denver, heavy duty mechanic resignation; Ivy Derry, ESP retirement; Carla Evans, secretary retirement; Michael Jones, custodian engineer retirement; Karen Nash, JV softball coach resignation; Jeffrey Niles, custodian engineer retirement; Daryl Reinen, custodian engineer retirement; Cathy Shields, teacher retirement.
Finally, school board members adopted the resolution of Respect Minnesota which works to honor and respect people. According to the administrative report, “The pledge demonstrates a commitment and promise to provide a safe environment for everyone, especially those who share different opinions on contentious issues and/or sizeable projects that impact communities.”
“We recognize that we’re not always going to agree and if we do disagree, we agree to disagree and we do it respectfully,” Board Chair Pat Medure remarked.
Board members also took action on the following agenda items:
Approved organizational meeting minutes from Jan. 6, 2020.
Approved Dec. claims of $9,641,791.21.
Approved gifts from October through December, 2019. Oct. 2019 gifts totaled $6,405.71. Nov. 2019 gifts totalled $20,225.97 and Dec. 2019 gifts were $17,884.38.
Approved confidential administrative assistant 2019-2021 contract.
Approved Director Unit 2019-2021 contract.
Approved Indian Education Coordinator 2019-21 contract.
Approved Middle School Activities Director 2019-21 contract.
Approved Service Unit 2019-21 contract.
Approved communications coordinator 2019-21 contract.
Approved Human Resources Director 2019-21 contract.
Updated Banking Administrators/Signers.
Approve Wipfli LLP as district auditors for fiscal year ending June 30, 2020.
Approve renumbering of policy 721 Petty Cash to Policy number 798.
Approve changes to policy 703 annual audit.
Upcoming board meetings:
• School Board Special Meeting Jan. 22, 5 p.m. Admin Board Room
• School Board Special Meeting Jan. 24, 5 p.m. Admin Board Room
• School Board Workshop: Community Focus Groups January 27, 28, and 29, 5 p.m. Reif Center.
• School Board Special Meetings January 27, 28, and 29, 7 p.m. Admin Board Room.
• School Board Workshop Feb. 3, 5:30 p.m. Admin Board Room
• School Board Open Forum Feb. 10, 6:30 p.m. Board Room and via telepresence at Bigfork School followed by School Board Regular Meeting at 7 p.m.