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PR-B board holds reorganization meeting

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Prior to their Jan. regular board meeting, the Pine River-Backus School Board hosted a reorganization meeting.

During the reorganization meeting, most appointments remained the same as the 2012-13 school year. School Board Chair Sandra Poferl was nominated again for chair by board member Garny Gaffey, board member Chris Cunningham seconded the motion and the board approved unanimously.

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Chris Cunningham was unanimously approved as vice chair after a nomination by Gaffey and a second by Poferl. Katy Botz was nominated by Jim Coffland as Clerk/Treasurer. The nomination was seconded by Poferl and passed unanimously.

Board salaries remain at $200 per month for the board chair, $175 per month for all other members, $35 a month for special and committee meetings and half day workshops and $75 per full day workshop. The salary has not increased for at least two years. The board publication and official depositories also remained the same.

Discussion ensued concerning renewal of membership in organizations including the Minnesota School Board Association, Central Minnesota ERDC, National Joint Powers Alliance, Schools for Equity in Education, Minnesota State High School League, Cass County Economic Development Corporation, Pine River Chamber of Commerce, National School Board Association National Affiliate Program, and the Minnesota Rural Education Association. Membership to these organizations during the past year cost over $12,000 according to the meeting agenda.

“Is there anything if we were making cuts that we could cut?” Board Member Jim Coffland asked Superintendent Cathy Bettino.

“I think that they are all good organizations that we belong to and they provide us good services. The ones that are more political in nature are Schools for Equity in Education and MREA (Minnesota Rural Education Association), but quite honestly they’ve done some good work at the legislature in the last two years to help improve school funding.”

Schools for Equity in Education 2014 membership dues were $2,100. Minnesota Rural Education Association 2013-2014 dues were $2,064.

The board decided to approve the memberships unanimously.

In other business, the board:

• Addressed questions on how the school decides whether or not to close for bad weather. Board member Jim Coffland explained that even if the school does not close, parents have the option of keeping their children home. Bettino agreed and said that such absences would not be counted against students.

• Unanimously approved placement of Marcy Miller, Elementary Teacher, on MA+30 effective Jan. 1. The motion was made by Jason Marcum and seconded by Coffland. During public comment at the beginning of the meeting, Miller requested that the board amend this item on the agenda based on what she described as “inconsistent salary schedule placement for newly scheduled teachers.” Since signing a contract with the school in 2011, she has been requesting pay adjustments according to her qualifications, and said she was denied these adjustments while others were not.

“Because hiring practices, whether politically motivated, school board dictated, or for some other reason have obviously changed from my date of hire to Mrs. Ott’s I will not have received over $17,000 in salary while serving the Pine River-Backus School community. That is why I am asking today’s agenda item 8.2 be amended to include retroactive pay,” Miller said. “Retroactive pay has been granted to other employees in the past, so I am hoping that you, the Pine River-Backus School board will consider my request tonight.”

An amendment was not added.

• Set regular board meetings for Feb. 24, Mar. 17, Apr. 21, May 19, June 16, July 21, Aug. 18, Sept. 15, Oct. 20, Nov 17, and Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. Special recommendations were made for a June 10 preliminary budget meeting at 5 p.m. and a Nov. 11 special audit report meeting at 5 p.m.

• Adopted a resolution directing the administration to make recommendations for reductions in programs and positions.

• Closed the regular meeting for preliminary consideration of allegations or charges against an individual subject to the board’s authority. This closure was supported by Minnesota Statute 13D.05 Subdivision 2(b).

Travis Grimler can be reached at Travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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