The Menahga School Board voted to reduce staff by one building principal and 8.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) certified staff for the 2021-22 school year at their Monday, March 15 meeting.

The staff positions include four elementary positions, one special education position and 3.5 positions in grades 7 through 12.

Superintendent Kevin Wellen said principals will come to the Monday, April 19 meeting with specific non-renewals and/or placements on unrequested leave of absence. Staff will be verbally notified ahead of time, he said.

The resolution further stated that “the purchase of buses will be suspended for at least one year and the purchase of technology will be limited to replacement and maintenance purchases. All major technology purchases shall be delayed one year.”

The board is cutting the budget by about $1 million due to declining student enrollment – primarily due to COVID – and subsequent reductions in state aid.

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Early retirements

Wellen recommended approving the four early retirement incentive requests.

The board accepted resignations from paraprofessional Judy Baso, elementary secretary Jane Anderson, superintendent secretary Deb Lenzen and art teacher Dawn Rossbach. All are effective at the end of the 2020-21 school year.

Baso has worked at the district for 32 years; Anderson, 31; Lenzen, 25 and Rossbach, 24.

Wellen pointed out that the combined experience of these staff members was more than 100 years. “That’s a lot of history and a lot of knowledge that will be leaving us, so it is truly with a lot of gratitude for all of those people and their dedication to the district for all of those years,” he said.

In other business, the board did as follows:

  • Acknowledged a $13,000 Carl Perkins grant, which was used toward the purchase of a plasma cutter.

  • Tabled a request to pay additional dues to the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) in the amount of $4,843. MSHSL is asking school districts to help cover the organization’s $4 million in losses due to COVID-19 and other budget problems.

  • Accepted the resignation of middle school teacher Nicole Fedie, effective at the end of the 2020-21 school year. She worked for two years with the school district.

  • Requested that Education Minnesota Menahga consider reducing the staff development budget to an amount not to exceed $100,000 for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

  • Posted the activities director position internally as a 0.5 FTE, which could be combined with an existing assignment.

  • Learned that the UNC Warrior speech team earned three Heartland Championship Awards at a March 11 junior high tournament in Walker.

  • Congratulated Shelly Franklin on receiving the Region 5 Paraprofessional of Excellence Award through Sourcewell.

  • Congratulated senior Madison Thene and junior Tyler Shepersky for being Menahga

High School 2021 Students of Character, also sponsored by Sourcewell.

  • Thanked Jennifer Berg and the 10th grade class for all their hard work in organizing a week of celebration in honor of Kiana Jarvelin, who passed away on March 1 after being ill for a week.

  • Directed administration to follow the 10- or 7-day quarantine option for students, per Minnesota Department of Health standards.

  • Approved an early out for one or two Wednesdays per month for the 2021-22 school year and directed administration to create a calendar accordingly.