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Bemidji School Board earns MSBA Award of Distinction

The Bemidji School District will receive the Minnesota School Boards Association's District Award of Distinction, recognizing the district's superintendent and the Bemidji School Board for their commitment to good governance through board training.

The district was one of seven school districts in the state to receive the honor this year. The award will be presented during MSBA's Leadership Conference Recognition Luncheon Thursday, Jan. 13, at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Three members on the Bemidji School Board have earned a Director Award, which requires at least 100 hours of training. Gene Dillon, chairman of the board, will receive the President's Award for having completed 300 hours of training.

Dillon said training has been an important part of his job as a school board member.

"I think it's important that board members understand things not only at the district level, but at the state level, too," he said. "It is worth it so we know what's going on."

The MSBA provides four phases of training, from learning how to develop leadership skills to understanding how to connect with the community.

School board member John Pugleasa said receiving the award from the MSBA required more than just training.

"It's also participating in conferences, which offer a variety of different learning opportunities," Pugleasa said. "We learn about issues pertinent to school governance. We also receive credit for hosting certain events and participating with the MSBA."

Pugleasa said board members take extra training for a reason and he is pleased the district is being recognized for its governance.

"You come onto the board with certain ideas and are committed to public education," he said. "But there are things you face that are hard to prepare for. Things can be pretty foreign at times. Attending conferences and receiving training helps board members prepare for that. As a school board member, I am always interested in learning, growing and improving."

Pugleasa said the award of distinction will boost the Bemidji School District's status as a regional center.

"I think we become leaders and not followers by being well prepared through training," Pugleasa said.

The MSBA serves Minnesota's public schools with technical assistance, advocacy, board development programs, research, referral and cost-saving programs. Other school districts to receive the award were Becker, Dover-Eyota, Luverne, Mahtomedi, Sebeka and Spring Lake Park.