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Pine River-Backus School Board accepts resignation, appoints new member

The Pine River-Backus School Board appointed Jason Marcum to an open board seat Monday, March 18, on a 4-2 vote.

Marcum will fill Barb Beck’s term until a special election is held in November 2014. Beck had submitted her resignation as of Feb. 22, citing the need for reduced stress while recovering from illness. The board accepted her resignation Monday and declared the board vacancy. Board member Katy Botz voiced appreciation for Beck’s service.

Marcum was chosen from a pool of applicants who were interested in an earlier opening on the board. The board filled that opening last month, appointing Leslie Bouchonville to fulfill the term of John Palmer, who resigned in November.

Monday, the board discussed the options for filling the most recent open position.

“The board could post again and look for other people if it wanted, but it really is up to the board at this point,” Superintendent Cathy Bettino said.

“We’re in the third month of the year. Instead of having to wait another month, would there be any objection to taking another vote out of those candidates?” board chair Sandy Poferl asked.

“I’d like to see us move forward,” board member Garny Gaffey said.

Jim Coffland made a motion to appoint a new board member from the five remaining candidates who were interviewed to fill the previously vacated position. Gaffey seconded the motion, and it was approved unanimously.

Bettino had contacted applicants prior to the board meeting to ensure they were still interested. The five candidates were Marcum, Jerry Peterson, Ann Sweeney, Chas Norman and Stephanie Wynn.

Residents attending Monday’s meeting made suggestions regarding the board’s choice in filling the position.

“I would just like to encourage the board, now that there is another vacancy, to consider the person with the second highest number of votes because it was very close between Leslie and Jason, and I think Jason would be an excellent candidate with his family still using the system,” said Bonnie Lomen.

Peterson, a former board member, also made a request. “I would like you to look at the person that got the most votes in the last election, that didn’t get back on the board. And I’ve got almost fifteen hundred votes. That would be a slap in the face to the voters if you went a different way,” he said.

Peterson didn’t win re-election last November.

In the end, the board appointed Marcum with votes from Bouchonville, Chris Cunningham, Gaffey and Poferl. Coffland and Botz voted against that appointment. In an earlier roll call vote, Coffland and Botz supported Peterson.

In other business Monday:

• Pine River-Backus High School Principal Trent Langemo gave an update regarding career day Friday, March 22. Langemo said there are nearly 40 professionals coming to present to students, including engineers, medical doctors and actors, among others.

• Bettino discussed the current progress of finding and hiring an elementary school principal to fill the position to be vacated by Jackie Bruns at the completion of the school year. Bettino said the pool of applicants has been reduced from 34 to approximately 10, who will be given a pre-interview via Skype. Four to five of those candidates will be invited for public, in-person interviews with the school board in April.

• Poferl announced that Teens Leading the Way, a group of students working under the Working Together Coalition, has acquired a grant to purchase paint to possibly create murals on garbage cans and walls in downtown Pine River in cooperation with the Dam Improvement Project.

• The board approved the 2013-14 school calendar after amending the calendar to include a graduation date of May 30, 2014.

• The board approved the agreement with the city of Pine River for police liaison services for the 2013-14 school year. The 2013-14 contract is $37,285.60, which is a $9,532 increase over the 2012-13 contract amount.

• The board authorized posting an opening for a full-time elementary literacy tutor through the Minnesota Reading Corps for the 2013-14 school year.