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

A special 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 7:15 am. The following members were present: Kirby Anderson, Melanie Cole, Missy (Melissa) Hermes, Natalie Knutson, Matthew Lemke, and Stephen Vigesaa. 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. 

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

Reports were presented by: 

  • Jeff Drake, Superintendent

New Business: 

  1. Melanie Cole moved to not renew the Fergus Falls School District’s membership with the Fergus Falls Area Special Education Cooperative #935 effective at the end of the fiscal school year (6/30/2024). The motion was seconded by Stephen Vigesaa and carried unanimously. 
  2. Stephen Vigesaa moved to go into a closed session at 8:03 am permitted by Minnesota Statute §13D.03 to discuss
negotiation strategies related to the District’s negotiations with the Fergus Falls Education Association EM-NEA-AFT-AFL-CIO Local #7087. The motion was seconded by Kirby Anderson and carried unanimously. 

Melanie Cole left the meeting at 8:38 am

  1. Kirby Anderson moved to reopen the School Board meeting at 8:43 am. The motion was seconded by Stephen Vigesaa and carried unanimously. 

The next regular School Board meeting will be held at 5:15 pm Monday, November 13, 2023 in the Otter Community Room at the Kennedy Secondary School. 

Missy Hermes made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:44 am. The motion was seconded by Kirby Anderson and carried unanimously. 

Melissa Hermes, Clerk