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Blackduck teachers agree: No new money

A new contract with Blackduck teachers was approved Wednesday night at the district school board's regular meeting. It provides for no general pay increase.

The board also...

• Held its required Truth in Taxation meeting with the next year's budget due to get preliminary approval at the Jan. 11 meeting

• Offered congratulations to six seniors and five juniors named to the National Honor Society

• Received word of a Tenstrike student honored by a veteran's organization

• Learned a grant written by high school principal Wendy Templin had won a Classroom of the Future technology grant and

• Announced that an H1N1 flu shot clinic will be available to the public Tuesday.

All members of the board were present as chairman Dale Compton moved quickly through a full agenda. Only a few staff members were on hand as the board reached the item of most interest, the new teacher's contract. It was approved with little discussion on a 4-2 vote with new member Bob Stroeing and chairman Dale Compton voting no.

Stroeing said he had questions not about the amount but about some of the language included in the new agreement and Compton echoed that as he also voted no.

Board member Larry Zea said he had a prepared written comment, but instead voiced his thoughts.

"The negotiations went very well," he said. "The teachers didn't ask for the moon and they knew we didn't have to the moon to give them." Copies of his prepared statement were given to The American after the meeting. In it, Zea said he wanted "teachers to know we support them."

School Superintendent Bob Doetsch emphasized later that the settlement involved no new money. "The existing agreement included past practices involving pay steps based on years of service and so on, but those are the only changes. The total increase is less than six-tenths of a percent. It may well be one of the smallest increases in any Minnesota school this year."

School business manager Dave Decker led a review of the Truth in Taxation hearing state law requires of all taxing districts. It was a preview of how the school budget may look when it gets its first presentation next month, with final approval coming in June.

"That's part of the problem," Decker noted. "Everyone else (state, county, etc) is on a calendar year basis but the state keeps the school budgets set for mid-year. We still have to set our levy now," he added and the board followed his lead by giving approval to a less than 1 percent increase from the current year's levy. The $839,138 total represents a .64 percent boost.

Congratulations led the Wednesday evening agenda. The National Honor Society, the board was told, has inducted five second year seniors: James Bettin, Todd Kallroos, Katie Slindee, Cassie Stroeing, Kelsey Tjepkes and four juniors: Charles Biberg, Katie Olafson, Alex Schuman and Michael Dexter.

Superintendent Doetsch read a letter he had received announcing that a Tenstrike student Andrew Nissen, has been given a donation from the Veterans of Foreign Wars post and its Women's Auxiliary in Bemidji for a Patriot's Pen essay written to honor American military heroes. The essay also won honors in the VFW District 9 contest.

School board membes gave a spontaneous round of applause at news that a grant written by High School Principal Wendy Templin had won the 2009 Tierney Brothers Classroom of the Year technology grant. The $7,500 grant will be used, Templin said, to acquire equipment for the expansion of technology in high school labs and classrooms.

Other grants and donations were acknowledged including one from the family of the late Mabel Magnuson and another from the state High School Association for athletic activities.

Doetsch announced there will be an H1N1 flu shot clinic Tuesday beginning at 9 a.m. in the school multi-purpose room. The inoculations will be available to the general public. There is no charge but to be sure enough vaccine is available, interested persons are urged to call Becky Denny, the school health aide at 835-5200 by Monday at the latest.