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

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

Thank you to the Fergus Falls Walmart #1696 for awarding the Local Community Grant to Fergus Falls Public Schools. Also, thank you to Lisa Dee for the donation of a trombone to the KSS Band Department.

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

  • Scott Colbeck - Elementary Principal (Adams/McKinley)
  • Tindy Rund - Elementary Principal (Cleveland) 
  • Ivan Hirst - Middle School Principal
  • Mark Anderson - High School Principal

(Matthew Lemke entered the meeting at 5:39 pm)

  • Jeff Drake - Superintendent

General Consent Items

The following consent agenda was presented for approval: 

  1. Minutes from the regular School Board meeting held on November 13, 2023 
  2. Bills (November 9-21, 2023) - reviewed by Kirby Anderson and Stephen Vigesaa
  3. Personnel

Certified Teaching Staff Hire:

-Jennifer Smith, special education teacher - .2422 FTE @ iQ Academy; effective 11/6/2023

Certified Teaching Staff Resignation:

-Jessica Molstre, Title 1 Program Director; effective 12/22/2023

Support Staff Hires:

-Jennifer Endris, special education paraprofessional @ Cleveland; effective 12/4/2023

-Mayson Jensen, early childhood classroom assistant @ Lincoln; effective 12/4/2023

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

Old Business: 

None.

 New Business: 

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

RESOLUTION ESTABLISHING COMBINED POLLING PLACES FOR MULTIPLE PRECINCTS AND DESIGNATING HOURS DURING WHICH THE POLLING PLACES WILL REMAIN OPEN FOR VOTING FOR SCHOOL DISTRICT ELECTIONS NOT HELD ON THE DAY OF A STATEWIDE ELECTION

BE IT RESOLVED by the School Board of Independent School District No. 0544, State of Minnesota, as follows:

  1. Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, Section 205A.11, the precincts and polling places for school district elections are those precincts or parts of precincts located within the boundaries of the school district which have been established by the cities or towns located in whole or in part within the school district. The board hereby confirms those precincts and polling places so established by those municipalities.
  1. Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, Section 205A.11, the board may establish a combined polling place for several precincts for school district elections not held on the day of a statewide election. Each combined polling place must be a polling place that has been designated by a county or municipality. The following combined polling places are established to serve the precincts specified for all school district special and general elections not held on the same day as a statewide election:

Combined Polling Place 1:  Fergus Falls Public Library–Community Room, 205 Hampden Avenue, Fergus Falls, MN

This combined polling place serves all territory in Independent School District No. 544 located in the City of Fergus Falls, Ward 1, Precincts 1 and 2, City of Dalton, Dane Prairie Township and Tumuli Township; Otter Tail County, Minnesota.

Combined Polling Place 2: YMCA–Community Room, 1164 Friberg Avenue, Fergus Falls, MN

This combined polling place serves all territory in Independent School District No. 544 located in the City of Fergus Falls, Ward 2, Precincts 1 & 2, Aurdal Township, Friberg Township, Maine Township and Sverdrup Township; Otter Tail County, Minnesota.

Combined Polling Place 3: MN State Community & Technical College, 1414 College Way, Fergus Falls, MN

This combined polling place serves all territory in Independent School District No. 544 located in the City of Fergus Falls, Ward 3, Precincts 1 and 2, Carlisle Township, Elizabeth Township, City of Elizabeth, Fergus Falls Township, Oscar Township; Otter Tail County, Minnesota - and Akron Township; Wilkin County, Minnesota.  

Combined Polling Place 4: Bigwood Event Center, 925 Western Avenue, Fergus Falls, MN

This combined polling place serves all territory in Independent School District No. 544 located in the City of Fergus Falls, Ward 4, Precincts 1 and 2, Aastad Township, Buse Township, Orwell Township and Western Township; Otter Tail County, Minnesota.

  1. Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, Section 205A.09, the polling places will remain open for voting for school district elections not held on the same day as a statewide election between the hours of 7:00 o'clock a.m. and 8:00 o'clock p.m.
  1. The clerk is directed to file a certified copy of this resolution with the county auditors of each of the counties in which the school district is located, in whole or in part, within thirty (30) days after its adoption.
  1.   As required by Minnesota Statutes, Section 204B.16, Subdivision 1a, the clerk is hereby authorized and directed to give written notice of new polling place locations to each affected household with at least one registered voter in the school district whose school district polling place location has been changed. The notice must be a non forwardable notice mailed at least twenty-five (25) days before the date of the first election to which it will apply. A notice that is returned as undeliverable must be forwarded immediately to the appropriate county auditor, who shall change the registrant’s status to “challenged” in the statewide registration system.

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 following resolution and moved for its adoption: 

RESOLUTION TO MAKE A PERMANENT FUND TRANSFER FROM THE GENERAL FUND (FUND 01) TO THE COMMUNITY SERVICE FUND (FUND 04) IN THE AMOUNT OF $250,000

WHEREAS, Minnesota Statute 123B.79 allows an independent school district to make permanent fund transfers from the general fund to any other operating fund according to section 121A.19 or if the resources of the other fund are not adequate to finance approved expenditures from that other fund. 

AND WHEREAS, “operating funds” as defined in the Universal Financial Accounting and Reporting Standards (UFARS) include the General Fund, Food Service Fund, and the Community Service Fund.

AND WHEREAS, the Community Service Fund currently has a deficit balance and does not have adequate resources to finance the approved expenditures.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Fergus Falls School Board to authorize the Finance Director to make a permanent fund transfer from the General Fund (Fund 01) to the Community Service Fund (Fund 04) in the amount of $250,000. 

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 the MDE Review and Comment for the proposed new elementary school. The motion was seconded by Melanie Cole and carried unanimously. 

The next regular School Board meeting will be held at 5:15 pm Monday, December 11, 2023 in the Otter Community Room at the Kennedy Secondary School, which will include public meetings for the World’s Best Workforce, Technology Plan & Internet Safety Policy and the Fergus Falls Public Schools Taxes Payable 2024 (beginning at 6 pm).

Stephen Vigesaa made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 5:54 pm. The motion was seconded by Kirby Anderson and carried unanimously.

A work session followed the regular board meeting.