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, 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. 

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

Missy Hermes offered the resolution of acknowledgements for the following and moved for its adoption:

Thank you to the Otter PTO for their donations to Adams & McKinley Elementary schools. 

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, 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: 

  • Amelia Lemar - Curriculum Director
  • Kirby Anderson – 544 Education Foundation, Finance, Activities
  • Melanie Cole – Spec Ed Coop, Region I, Meet & Confer
  • Missy Hermes – Curriculum Review, Policy 
  • Natalie Knutson – Wellness, Buildings & Grounds, Policy
  • Matthew Lemke – MSHSL
  • Stephen Vigesaa – Staff Development
  • Jeff Drake  – Superintendent

General Consent Items

The following consent agenda was presented for approval: 

  1. Minutes from the April 22, 2024 regular School Board meeting and May 2, 2024 Special School Board meeting
  2. Bills and Treasurer’s Report - reviewed by Stephen Vigesaa and Kirby Anderson:

General Fund

$2,064,219.92

Food Service

$86,209.69

Community Service

$8,000.39

Building Fund

$1,431,419.36

Debt Service

$3,750.00

Trust & Agency

$1,098.88

Activities

$11,022.09

TOTAL

$3,605,720.33

  1. Personnel

2024-2025 Certified Staff Hires:

  • Troy Davis, special education teacher @ KSS/MS; effective 8/26/2024
  • Sara Thein, special education teacher @ Cleveland; effective 8/26/2024
  • Sarah Phelps, special education teacher @ KSS/HS; effective 8/26/2024
  • Anne Hintz, general music teacher @ KSS - .10 FTE; effective 8/26/2024
  • Kayla Thompson, long-term elementary substitute teacher; effective 2024-25 school year
  • Kailey Graff, long-term elementary substitute teacher; effective 2024-25 school year

2023-24 Certified Teaching Staff Overloads:

  • Rebecca Wynn, special education teacher @ McKinley; effective 2nd Semester (.0405 FTE/year)
  • Andrew Kowalski, special education teacher @ KSS; effective 3rd Trimester (.0273 FTE/yr)

Certified Staff Resignations:

  • Andrea Tedrick, language arts teacher @ KSS/MS; effective at the end of the 2023-24 school year
  • Payton Skonseng, language arts teacher @ KSS/MS; effective at the end of the 2023-24 school year

Support Staff Hires: 

  • Carter Thielke, seasonal grounds-custodian; effective 5/13/2024
  • Amy Newkirk, library/academic para educator @ McKinley; effective 8/28/2024
  • Cathy Swanson, staff/computer food service para educator @ Adams; effective 8/28/2024 
  • Wendy Gale, custodian @ KSS; effective 5/13/2024

Support Staff Resignation: 

  • Sarah Stoen, custodian @ KSS; last work day-5/16/2024

Support Staff Retirement: 

  • Sherri Bernard, para educator @ Cleveland; effective 5/28/2024

Early Childhood Special Education Paraprofessionals reassigned/hired: 

            (due to withdrawal from the 935 Special Education Coop); Effective 2024-2025 school year

  • Pamela Graf (4 days/week @ 6.5 hours/day)
  • Michelle Peasley (5 days/week @ 6.5 hours/day)
  • Tayler Thompson (5 days/week @ 6.5 hours/day)
  • Summer Wigdahl (4 days/week @ 6.5 hours/day)

2024-2026 Individual Contract

  • Finance Director (Renae Macheledt)
  1. Request for a .6 FTE One Year Leave of absence for Lisa Schlosser; effective for the 2024-25 school year
  2. Intent to Negotiate 2024-2026 Contract: 

- Fergus Falls Food Service Association

- Education Minnesota Fergus Falls Special Education Paraprofessional Association

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

Old Business: 

None

New Business: 

  1. Stephen Vigesaa moved to approve the invitation for FY25 quotes for milk and related products. The motion was seconded by Kirby Anderson and carried unanimously.
  2. Melanie Cole moved to approve the Lakeland Mental Health Center Contract for School Based Mental Health Practitioner Services for Lincoln School; Effective 7/1/2024 - 12/31/2024. The motion was seconded by Matthew Lemke and carried unanimously.
  3. Matthew Lemke moved to approve the Lakeland Mental Health Center Contract for School Based Mental Health Practitioner Services for Level 3 Classrooms; Effective 7/1/2024 - 12/31/2024. The motion was seconded by Stephen Vigesaa and carried unanimously.
  4. Melanie Cole moved to approve the Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy, Inc. (OSPTI-Shawn Krause Roberts) Contract for Therapy Services; Effective 8/20/2024 - 5/31/2025. The motion was seconded by Matthew Lemke and carried unanimously.
  5. Missy Hermes moved to approve the 2024-25 School Calendar for iQ Academy. The motion was seconded by Kirby Anderson and carried unanimously.
  6. Melanie Cole moved to approve the Additional Para Educator Position (1 FTE - 6.5 hrs/day) @ McKinley School and two para educator positions at Lincoln school (2 FTEs - 7 hrs/day): effective 2024-25 school year. The motion was seconded by Stephen Vigesaa and carried unanimously.
  7. Matthew Lemke moved to approve the Spring 2024 Memorandum of Agreement outlining the fee structure for the College in the High School program at the University of Minnesota Crookston. The motion was seconded by Melanie Cole and carried unanimously.
  8. Missy Hermes moved to approve the K-12 Health Curriculum (The Great Body Shop) and PE equipment for the 2024-25 school year. The motion was seconded by Stephen Vigesaa and carried unanimously.
  9. Stephen Vigesaa offered the following resolution and moved for its adoption: 

RESOLUTION ON THE RETIREMENT OF SHERRI BERNARD

  WHEREAS Sherri Bernard began her employment with the Fergus Falls Public Schools in August 2013, and

  WHEREAS Sherri has been a valued employee with the Fergus Falls Public Schools for the past 11 years, and

  WHEREAS Sherri has been a dedicated paraeducator for the district and,

  NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Fergus Falls School Board to thank Sherri Bernard for her 11 years of service to the Fergus Falls Public Schools.

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.  

A special School Board meeting will be held at 7:30 am Monday, May 20, 2024 in the Otter Community Room at the Kennedy Secondary School.  

The next regular School Board meeting will be held at 7:15 am Tuesday, May 28, 2024 in the Otter Community Room at the Kennedy Secondary School. 

Stephen Vigesaa made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 6:10 pm. The motion was seconded by Kirby Anderson and carried unanimously. 

A work session followed the regular board meeting.