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Blackduck School Board holds special meeting

A special Blackduck School Board meeting was held May 7. This meeting has about four agenda items with the main focus on the interim superintendent position.

Board Chair Cynthia Nord called the meeting to order but before the meeting got underway, the board had to moved the agenda items around to make the meeting flow better. At this point they opened the floor to the public for open discussion.

Blackduck School Librarian Jane Rivard Fenske was the first to make a statement. Speaking with emotion, she said that no one on the board seems to have any respect for education. No one seems to appreciate the caliber of teachers, administrators and support staff Blackduck has.

Blackduck teachers Laura Wood and Jennifer Parker also spoke. Both made similar comments regarding the loss of the Blackduck High School's principal, Wendy Templin.

They both made comments that said they felt that Templin was run out of the this community by some of the board members and some community members. Both acknowledged that the former principal was great to work with and that they felt that Blackduck has suffered an enormous loss and a lucky catch for Bemidji.

The two also begged the board to check records when parents or community members complain about an individual or situation.

Typically, when they check the records they would find that the facts are much different than the complaint. "Don't assume comments are true."

"It's a sad day for our school," Wood finished.

The crowd of about 30 people applauded after each person spoke.

Sonja Juelson and Tricia Nord spoke up and said they felt that Blackduck's woes were now reaching far beyond Blackduck.

Juelson said her son had called from Texas and asked what in the world is going on up in Blackduck?

Nord student teaches in Bemidji and is asked almost daily what is happening up here.

As the open comments session ended the meeting moved on to the other agenda items.

Phy Ed teacher Cody Gross asked if the board would consider making the Physical Education position a two year contract vs the one year as it was offered.

Board member Grant Mistic asked what would happen if they make it a two year contract? Chairman Nord asked that she be given a chance to check if they could change it since it had been advertised as a one year position. Mistic said it actually makes sense to change it to a two year position. The board decided to table the decision until the next regular board meeting May 14, giving them time to check it out.

The second agenda item was to accept the resignation of the high school principal.

The motion passed after board member Rachel Larson expressed her feelings with her comment, "This board needs to change, This is a horrible loss."

Nord then stated that she wanted to thank Templin for her service here and it's a horrible loss to Blackduck but a gain for Bemidji.

The interim superintendent position was addressed next. It was stated that the candidates have to have the correct Minnesota licensing and administrative experience. They decided to conduct four interviews May 15. These interviews will begin at 4:30 p.m. and run until approximately 7 p.m. These interviews are open to the public.

The board was about to move into a closed session according to Minnesota Statute 13D.03, Negotiations Strategy when someone asked what the board was going to do about the principle position.

Nord stated that the position will be further discussed at the regular board meeting May 14.

The meeting was then closed for negotiations strategy planning before it was reopened and then adjourned.