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Board divides on policy changes

Dave Decker

Splitting three to three, the Blackduck school board voted down by that tie, to deny action to expand consideration of policy changes to a larger group.

Board chairman Dale Compton read the agenda listing calling for the item to be discussed. Obviously irritated, Compton said it was unnecessary and solely a matter for the board.

Quickly, other board members questioned that, resulting in a motion by Grant Mistic, seconded by Randy Lange to have superintendent Robert Doetsch, high school principal Wendy Templin and elementary student dean Lorraine Warden review and present recommendations to the board. On a roll call vote, Lange opposed the motion he had seconded, with Mistic, Rachel Larson and Cynthia Nord voting for it and Lange, Sue Stroeng and Compton opposed.

Compton ruled the motion lost on the tie and after extended discussion, the board agreed to have Doetsch meet with them for further discussion and possibly holding several meetings for consideration of changes.

There were no direct references to the existing Policy 185 which defines board policy and specifically outlines board procedure on "Formulation, Adoption, Revision and Recission of Board Policies." It directs the superintendent to "prepare a draft policy" for board action, which the board apparently will now do.

A special meeting of the Blackduck board was scheduled for Thursday of this week to consider applications for the vacant business manager position.

Earlier, at its regular meeting Monday, the board heard former manager Dave Decker challenge two board members for attempting to torpedo the salary and benefits package under which he said he had been hired 11 years earlier. He did not name the two and following his statement, there was no response from any members of the board, all of whom were present at the meeting.

Seven applications for the business manager position were received from individuals in Bemidji, Turtle River, Duluth, Tenstrike and Blackduck. Personal interviews are expected to follow.

In reviewing the Good Things Happening, it was announced that Pentax has donated a number of cameras for use by students in the photography class, that in the Summer Reading program 76 students had turned in a total of 375 book reports and that two foreign exchange students from Germany and Russia will be attending school in Blackduck this year.

There was more good news in a report from Doetsch on student achievement in reading and math proficiency scores. Comparing Blackduck averages to those for 18 other area schools including Bemidji, Blackduck was well ahead of all well as and to the state average for all schools.

"Our change to the four-day week hasn't hurt the success rate for our kids," he smiled. "They're still the best."