The Menahga School Board declined to co-author a COPS Grant application with the city of Menahga.

They discussed the matter at their May 17 meeting.

Superintendent Kevin Wellen reported that Menahga Police Chief Adam Gunderson inquired about seeking funds for a school resource officer (SRO). It would be a financial commitment for the school district, Wellen said, at roughly 25 percent of the individual’s salary and benefits over four years. He estimated the annual cost to the district at $25,000 to $30,000.

SROs are a bit controversial, Wellen noted. If the district isn’t interested in an SRO, Gunderson plans to apply for a community police officer.

Board member Katie Howard commented that the grant was worth trying for. She was also advised that it’s important to have a program, like DARE, for the SRO “so he’s walking into the classroom with a purpose” and building positive relationships with students.

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The main purpose is having a SRO on hand if there is a crisis, Howard said.

Wellen pointed out that it’s important to hire a cop with the right personality for the job as well.

Board chair Andrea Haverinen said she was “on the fence” because of the financial impact and four-year commitment.

A motion to join the grant application failed 2-3, with Cherie Peterson, Helen Lehto and Haverinen opposed.

In other business, the board did as follows:

  • Congratulated Anne Wothe for being named Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP) Western Division Middle School Principal of the Year.

  • Congratulated Business Manager Kyle Bergem for being named Rising Star Award by the Minnesota Association of School Business Officials.

  • Learned that the preschool will receive a two-year Pathway II grant for up to $30,000 total.

  • Learned that Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding was approved. “We will be able to put just shy of $500,000 back into our fund balance because we’re going to use it to pay for the staffing costs to keep classes small this year and the distance-learning educator we kept on to do that,” Wellen explained. “The good news is that now that instead of an anticipated $1 million fund balance, we’ll be at $1.5 million. You’ll recall that’s down from $3.2 million at the start of the year.”

  • Approved coaching assignments: Cory Kapphahn, junior high baseball; Cody Pulju, head softball and head girls basketball; Nick Jasmer, head baseball; Tim Wurdock, head boys/girls golf and head boys basketball; Jake Oyster, head wrestling; Kevin Sommers, head football; Logan Redetzke, head volleyball; Kiana Schauer, fall cheerleading; Kiana Schauer, winter cheerleading.

  • Heard Athletic Director Bob White urge the board to support coaches “because they’re getting harder and harder to find.” He noted it was a “very, very, very difficult year,” due to changing COVID regulations.

  • Accepted resignations from elementary music teacher Ian Hendrickson and fourth grade teacher Karly Cobb. Both are effective June 30.

  • Approved early-out Wednesdays for the 2021-22 school year, which will be Oct. 13, Nov. 17, Jan. 12, Feb. 9, March 9 and April 27.

  • Authorized a $100,000 budget limit for staff development funds for the 2021-22 fiscal year, per Education Minnesota Menahga approval.

  • Approved a summer school plan and summer hours for the district building.

  • Approved auto, property, workers' compensation insurance renewal for fiscal year 2022 from Weizenegger Engel Insurance for $97,663.

  • Approved cyber liability insurance renewal for 2022 from Hausmann-Johnson in the amount of $3,665.

  • Approved pre-K through fifth grade and sixth grade through 12th grade building configurations for 2021-22, per the administration team’s recommendation.

The next regular meeting is 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 21 at the media center.