Due to budget deficits, five non-tenured Menahga School teachers did not have their contracts renewed for the 2021-22 school year. They were Allison Poole, Kristie Yliniemi, Edwin Heltunen, Jeffrey Poppema and Jake Upton.

In addition, Middle School Principal Ann Wothe will be placed on unrequested leave of absence, without pay or fringe benefits, at the end of this school year. The reasons cited for the move were “lack of pupils and financial limitations.”

The Menahga School Board made the staff reductions at their Monday, April 19 meeting.

“These combined with already approved resignations and the internal transfer to activities director formally complete our budget reductions for the coming year,” wrote Superintendent Kevin Wellen in his report.

Prom pontoon

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Prom committee members and prom coordinator April Hodge asked the board to approve their request to offer pontoon rides during the school-sponsored event.

Wellen said he ran the idea by the district’s insurance company agent, who highly recommended not having a pontoon ride, as there were “too many variables that could present a huge liability issue for your district.” The attorney agreed, saying there were “inherent liability concerns.”

The board voted 3-1 to deny the request, with board member Julia Kicker opposed. Board chair Andrea Haverinen was absent.



Graduation ceremony

The board reviewed three possible options for the Class of 2021’s graduation ceremony: indoor, outdoor with a radio broadcast ($350) and live stream on Facebook, or outdoor with a full production ($8,100) similar to last year’s program.

“Maybe this might be our new tradition and we look at having it as a budget item,” said High School Principal Mark Frank of the latter option, noting that COVID restrictions are essentially identical to last year.

A poll of the 65 seniors found that 96 percent favored an outside ceremony. Frank said seniors also support having a parade.

The board approved the full production plan, not to exceed $8,500. Expenses are expected to be an eligible use of Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds.

The ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, May 21

In other business, the school board did as follows:

  • Accepted donations to Robotics from Team Industries for $250 and from APQ Engineering Inc. for $3,000.

  • Approved the purchase of a $15,000 router from Industrial CNC. All funds have been donated with no cost to the district.

  • Accepted the letter of resignation from paraprofessional Rachel London, effective April 15, and thanked her for a year of service.

  • Approved the internal transfer for Todd Frie from physical education teacher to athletic director with additional days for the 2021-22 school year.

  • Approved contracts with art teacher Tiffany Besonen and speech language pathologist Kylie Olson, beginning with the 2021-22 school year, contingent upon licensure and successful background checks.

  • Congratulated Michelle Koch for being named Subsection 23A Coach of the Year.

  • Congratulated middle schooler Greta Alajoki for winning the regional spelling bee. She advances to the national semi-final competition in June.

  • Received the following coaching assignments: Kiana Schauer, winter cheerleading; Tim Wurdock, head boys and girls golf; Todd Frie and Josh Roiko, assistant golf coaches; Dan Besonen, junior high Knowledge Bowl and Brian Krause, senior high Knowledge Bowl.

  • Accepted a $3,000 donation from APQ Engineering Inc. on behalf of the Menahga robotics team.

  • Accepted a $926 Carl Perkins grant to purchase shop tools.

  • Approved the calendar for the 2021-22 school year, but tabled a decision about proposed early outs on Oct.13, Nov. 17, Jan. 12, Feb. 9, Mar. 9 and April 27.

  • Determined the school district's health insurance carrier is Sourcewell/Health Partners for two years, commencing July 1.

The next school board meeting is 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 17.