Natalie Knutson, Chair

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

Negotiations: Special Education Paraprofessionals; District-wide Individual Contracts

Term ends: 2024


Melanie Cole, Vice Chair

Committees: Spec Ed. Coop & Region I Board; Buildings & Grounds

Negotiations: Certified staff; Special Education Paraprofessionals

Term ends: 2026


Phone: 218-205-4854

Kirby Anderson, Treasurer

Committees: Finance Committee; 544 Education Foundation; Activities Committee

Negotiations: Principals

Term ends: 2026


Phone: 218-770-7161

Melissa Hermes, Clerk

Committees: Staff Development; Policy Committee

Negotiations: Certified staff; Cafeteria

Term ends: 2026


Matthew Lemke

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

Negotiations: Certified staff; Principals; Secretaries & Custodians

Term ends: 2024


Phone: 218-731-1385

Stephen Vigesaa

Committees: Activities Committee; Policy Committee; Curriculum Review Committee

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

Term ends: 2024


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, Melanie Cole, Missy (Melissa) Hermes, Natalie Knutson, and Stephen Vigesaa. Matthew Lemke was absent. 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. 

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

No acknowledgements were presented. 

Reports were presented by: 

  • Eide Bailly – Audit Report

Stephen Vigesaa left the meeting at 5:38 pm.

Matthew Lemke entered the meeting at 5:40 pm.

  • Kirby Anderson – 544 Education Foundation, Finance, Activities
  • Melanie Cole – Spec Ed Coop, Region I, Negotiations
  • Missy Hermes – Staff Development, Policy
  • Natalie Knutson – Wellness, Buildings & Grounds
  • Matthew Lemke – MSHSL

General Consent Items

The following consent agenda was presented for approval: 

  1. Minutes from the October 23, 2023 regular School Board meeting and November 6, 2023 special School Board meeting
  2. Bills and Treasurer’s Report - reviewed by Kirby Anderson and Stephen Vigesaa:

General Fund


Food Service


Community Service


Building Fund


Debt Service


Trust & Agency







Support Staff Resignations:

  • Cassandra Swenson, special education paraprofessional @ Cleveland; last work day 10/24/2023
  • Amanda Stach, Early Childhood Classroom Assistant @ Lincoln: effective 11/6/2023

Support Staff Hires:

  • Ashleigh Holmquist, special education paraprofessional @ KSS; effective 11/13/2023
  • Lisa Ecker, special education paraprofessional/L-T Substitute @ KSS; effective 11/13/2023 

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

Old Business: 


New Business: 

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


Whereas, Independent School District 544 has veterans in its employ who have served in the armed forces, and;

Whereas, the District and Fergus Falls Education Association wish to recognize all those who have given so much for their country;

Be it hereby resolved, that School District 544 and the Fergus Falls Education Association honor and appreciate all veterans for their dedication to our country and service to others.

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 Knuston, Matthew Lemke, and Stephen Vigesaa;

and the following voted against same: 


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

  1. Matthew Lemke moved to approve the FY23 Fergus Falls Public Schools’ Financial Audit (Eide Bailly, Auditors). The motion was seconded by Melanie Cole and carried unanimously.
  2. Missy Hermes moved to approve the revised Early Childhood Support Services Agreement between Lakes Country Service Cooperative and Fergus Falls School District, ISD #544; effective 10/23/2023 - 06/30/2024. The motion was seconded by Kirby Anderson and carried unanimously.
  3. Kirby Anderson moved to approve the lease agreement between Balance Gymnastics Center and Fergus Falls School District, ISD #544; effective 7/1/2023 - 06/30/2028. The motion was seconded by Melanie Cole and carried unanimously.

 The next regular School Board meeting will be held at 5:15 pm Monday, November 27, 2023 in the Otter Community Room at the Kennedy Secondary School. 

Melanie Cole made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 6:24 pm. The motion was seconded by Matthew Lemke and carried unanimously. 

A work session followed the regular board meeting.

Melissa Hermes, Clerk