Pequot Lakes School Board approves principal contracts

In its Monday, Aug. 16, meeting, the Pequot Lakes School Board approved its master agreement with the school district’s three principals for the next two school years.

Pequot Lakes High School. Brainerd Dispatch file photo

In its Monday, Aug. 16, meeting, the Pequot Lakes School Board approved its master agreement with the school district’s three principals for the next two school years.

Per the agreement, high school principal Aaron Nelson will have a yearly salary of $133,112, middle school principal Mike O’Neil $123,856 and elementary school principal Melissa Hesch $120,339, with each principal’s salary increasing by roughly $4,000 for the 2022-2023 school year.

Aside from the increase in pay, much of the language of the agreement remains unchanged from previous years.

“We have the greatest school district in the state of Minnesota - and the western hemisphere - as far as I’m concerned,” board member Curt Johnson said. “You guys (the principals) are a part of that and a part of making that happen.”

In his report to the board, interim superintendent Kurt Stumpf reported the district is closely monitoring enrollment numbers, but is seeing a slightly lower-than-expected number of kindergarten students enrolled for the coming year as of now.


“That may change,” Stumpf said. “We are still three weeks away from the start of school. There may be more to come."

In other action Monday, the board:

  • Approved a cooperative agreement with the Pine River-Backus School District for dance.

  • Agreed to dissolve the girls’ hockey cooperative with Pine River-Backus, Crosby-Ironton and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley before approving a new cooperative agreement with those three schools as well as Aitkin.

  • Adopted a resolution relating to an $8.5 million general obligation tax abatement and refunding bonds, authorizing their issuance and authorizing business manager Heidi Hagen and any board officer to award the sale thereof.

  • Approved its yearly agreement with the Pequot Lakes Police Department for a police-school liaison officer.

  • Approved the terms and conditions of employment for unaffiliated district-level employees for 2021 through 2023.

  • Approved a memorandum of understanding regarding the qualifications for the assistant principal role.

  • Approved a memorandum of understanding with Education Minnesota Pequot Lakes regarding the transition from sick leave to a leave bank. Board chair Kim Bolz-Andolshek said the memorandum is simply a “clarification of language” and no changes have been made to the agreement.

  • Approved a change in rates for substitute staff, bringing the rate to $125 per day for substitute teachers and $13 per hour for non-licensed staff such as paraprofessionals, food service, custodians and more. Stumpf said these rates brought the district into the “medium to high” range among neighboring districts.

  • Accepted four donations to the district totaling $11,750.

As a part of its consent agenda, the board accepted the resignations of early childhood clerk Abby Jacobs, middle school paraprofessional Karen Van Dyke, bus driver Richard Pedersen, health office licensed practical nurse Michelle Singh, Early Childhood Special Education paraprofessional Marie Williams, high school paraprofessionals Darla Johnson and Janet Durham, assistant football coach Brian Homan and mock trial/one-act play director Susan Mathison-Young.
The board approved the hiring of food service helper Patricia Johnson, assistant football coach Justin Franke, ninth-grade football coach Preston Peters, C-level volleyball coach Emilee Buell, assistant dance coach Kendra Kozelka, band adviser Tavis Juran and one-act play director Maarja Melander.

Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at

Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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