2010-08-19 / Front Page

School changes election year

By Brenda Halvorson
General Manager

School board elections in the Staples Motley School District will be held in even-numbered years after a resolution was approved on a split vote at the board’s meeting Monday night.

The policy committee recommended the action citing cost savings and increased voter participation as the main reasons for the change.

Board member Chad Longbella checked with the Todd and Wadena County Auditors offices and found that the majority of school districts and cities hold their elections in the even-numbered years.

“The state is making it really hard to stay in the odd years,” Longbella said.

Most of the cost savings would come because the counties already run elections in the even numbered years. Therefore, the printing of ballots, the judges and the electronic voting machines are included in the counties’ costs.

The school district office staff would also incur lower labor costs for election administration.

Because other state wide and nation-wide offices are part of the general election in even-numbered years, the policy committee anticipates that voter participation would be greater.

The City of Staples holds its elections in the odd numbered years but Longbella said he thought they might also be considering a change.

Board member Brad Anderson said the school district should wait to see if the city chooses to change. He thought the transition would be easier and less confusing for voters if both entities decided to change.

Anderson’s was the only vote against the motion to adopt the new schedule.

The transition plan recommends that each current board member’s term be increased by one year.

The next election will be held in November, 2012, instead of 2011.

The terms of Paul Anderson, Chad Longbella and Ken Swecker are due to expire in January, 2012. They will now be extended to expire in January, 2013.

The terms of Brad Anderson, Mary Freeman and Barbara Schmitt would have expired in January, 2014. They will now expire in January, 2015.

The board also approved a consulting agreement with Greg Vandal of Sauk Rapids to develop a comprehensive plan for the district.

Brad Anderson and Freeman will be the two board members on a steering committee with two administrators, two staff and two community members to identify initial objectives for a planning team which will have 35-40 people.

The planning team will host focus groups and staff meetings to generate a set of guiding principles for consideration of the school board and steering committee at a work session in January.

Board Chair Schmitt emphasized that she is seeking accountability and measurable goals.

Freeman felt the timing is right because “we’re not in a budget crisis. This is a positive time to look positively ahead.”

Brad Anderson added they will suggest that the final goals or principles be an agenda item at least every quarter.

The cost of the contract is $8,300 plus mileage and expenses.

In other business the board:

o HIRED Jolene Elfstrum as a kindergarten teacher at Staples Elementary School, noting that kindergarten enrollment is at 123.

o HIRED Matthew Michel as a part time custodian and Craig Dobson as a full time bus driver.

o REDUCED contracts in the food service area for Lana Hansen by one hour and Kim Butler by one-half hour.

o APPROVED a letter of support from the school district to the Wadena City Council encouraging them to take action to reconstruct the hockey facilities that were destroyed by the June 17 tornado. The Staples Motley School District has a cooperative agreement with the Wadena- Deer Creek School District for student athletes to play hockey. Freeman said the compressor and tubing are intact in the concrete slab so they will make ice this winter. She was taking the letter to the Wadena City Council along with others to ask that a metal building be constructed “to provide these student-athletes with a winter weather protected arena to practice and host games.”

o HEARD reports from the principals on parent open houses and other preparations for school to begin Sept. 7.

o ACCEPTED two grants for food service. The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program grant for $38,775 will allow for afternoon snacks of fresh fruit and vegetables for elementary students. A second grant for $10,000 will allow for the promotion of no charge breakfasts at each of the school sites.

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