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School seeks to remain open Sundays

A two-hour meeting by the Wadena-Deer Creek school board Monday evening didn't include the main event -- a presentation by Ehlers and Associates in regard to a November referendum.

A scheduling conflict for the consulting firm prevented the presentation Monday. A new meeting with Ehlers and Associates was set for 5 p.m. Wednesday in the district meeting room. Action by the board on the presentation will not be taken Wednesday night so a special board meeting, which must have a 72-hour notice, was set for 5 p.m. Monday, July 27.

The board did approve both a referendum resolution and timeline.

The board heard from teacher's union representative Cheryl Kellen about a request to allow teachers in the school buildings on Sunday. Teachers have routinely used their Sunday visits to school to arrange their class work for the coming week. The Minnesota Department of Labor insists that a custodian must perform a boiler check on the premises when teachers are in the building but that has led to $5,100 of extra salary for custodians -- an expense that was trimmed by the board in the recent round of cuts.

Superintendent Virginia Dahlstrom has found that a boiler check does not have to performed if there are no people in the building for a 48-hour period. Since many extracurricular events are held on Saturdays, WDC custodians have to be on duty on that day.

"I guess I would like to investigate it a little because it's absurd," board member Dan Toedter said.

Kellen insisted that many teachers would be inconvenienced by not having access to the buildings on Sunday.

"We're asking to do our jobs better," Kellen said. "We're giving our time on the weekend to come in and prepare. I would think the school board would want us doing that."

The board intends to check into the matter further.

German teacher Lisa Winter will be adding sophomore English to her teaching assignment this fall. Ken Nelson, a retired teacher from Bertha-Hewitt, was added to the faculty as a part-time fifth- and sixth-grade band instructor. Secondary music instructor Katie Kabes, who recently informed the administration that she accepted a teaching position in southern Minnesota, was placed on unrequested leave.

The board approved an allocation totalling $43,208 for the Wadena-Deer Creek Community Education for the 2009-10 school year. Last year's allocation came to $56,375.