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PR-B School District: School board reacts to principal resignation

The Pine River-Backus School Board held an emergency meeting Friday, May 1, to discuss replacement of resigning high school principal Trent Langemo. School Board Chair Lee Aimers questioned whether the meeting to discuss the subject qualified as ...

The Pine River-Backus School Board held an emergency meeting Friday, May 1, to discuss replacement of resigning high school principal Trent Langemo.

School Board Chair Lee Aimers questioned whether the meeting to discuss the subject qualified as an "emergency" meeting under an advisory opinion by the commissioner of administration in the school board policies. The opinion would limit emergency meetings to "natural disasters or health epidemics caused by an event such as an accident or terrorist attack."

"I worry that whatever we do won't be official. They put the guidelines there, and I don't think we meet it," Aimers said.

Superintendent Cathy Bettino said she believed the board had the authority to discuss the position to be vacated by Langemo under an emergency meeting because the position is so important to the district, and so late in the school year, so the pool of candidates will be constantly shrinking. Bettino stressed that the policy specifies emergency meetings are held to discuss "circumstances, in the judgement of the school board, that require immediate consideration."

"I think we certainly meet the emergency clause with it being up to the judgement of the board," Bettino said.

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The alternative would have been for the board to give public notice of a special meeting at least three days prior to the meeting; however, Bettino said fewer board members would have been available later in the month, and the longer the board waits, the fewer quality candidates there are to draw from.

The board agreed to go through with the emergency meeting. Aimers along with board members Jim Coffland and Katy Botz said they would prefer to hold special meetings instead of emergency meetings in the future when discussing similar circumstances.

The board discussed changing the compensation for the high school principal to make the position more competitive with nearby districts. The compensation was adapted to be more comparable to districts of comparable size such as Pillager, Deer River and Wadena-Deer Creek.

The package presented to the board would include 220 school days, a salary of $89,000-$93,000, up to $6,000 a year in health insurance premiums, a 403(b) match of $2,500 annually, 15 sick days per year and three personal leave days.

The board approved the recommended compensation package after some discussion, though it was noted the actual pay and benefits would be negotiated with interested applicants.

The board also approved a timeline for hiring, which included a projected June 15 hiring date for the next high school principal.

Approval of the complete hiring plan with compensation recommendations was unanimous. All board members were present.

Related Topics: PINE RIVERBACKUS
Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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