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Nelson off the hook for penalty

The Wadena-Deer Creek School Board decided by a 4-2 vote Tuesday evening not to fine former math instructor Miranda Nelson for resigning after July 1 to take a new teaching position.

The master agreement between administration and the teaching staff gives the school board the right to fine a teacher who resigns their position after July 1. Nelson was a part-time instructor at WDC during the 2010-2011 school year. She was encouraged to find a full-time position by secondary principal Tyler Church. When the Fergus Falls school district came up with such an offer in July, Nelson informed that she would be resigning her position at WDC.

At the regular August board meeting Church asked the board to consider dropping the requirement of a $1,000 fine because Nelson had been a part-time instructor. The board decided to table a decision until their legal counsel could be consulted. Dirk Schulz, representing Education Minnesota, presented a Memo of Understanding to administration shortly after the Aug. 15 school board meeting. The memo stated that in Nelson's case the union was prepared to deviate from the master agreement.

Two votes were held on the Nelson question at Tuesday evening's special board meeting. The first vote was 3-3. After some discussion, board member Pete Hayes changed his vote based on the fact that Nelson was a part-time instructor last year, not a full-time instructor.

Nelson's resignation could have left the district without enough math instructors but Holly Becker, who had been granted an extension of her maternity leave by the board, agreed to return and resume her teaching duties.

Board member Dan Toedter asked Church for better information regarding the career plans of teachers in the future. Church said he try to comply but that legalities limited what administration can share.

Nelson was considered an excellent teacher and a credit to the WDC faculty in her brief career as a WDC instructor.

In other board business Tuesday night, the board accepted the resignations of high school nurse Jill Boline, assistant hockey coach Pat Boline and special education instructor Naomi Moerke, who will be teaching this fall at her former high school - West Central Area. Moerke, who was a full-time instructor, will pay the $1,000 fine for giving her resignation after July 1. The board approved the hiring of special education teacher Kari Hanson pending the release from her current teaching contract.

The board also approved an extension of contract for elementary music instructor Deb Nelson and the hiring of Connie Kawlewski as junior high volleyball coach.

The board approved an agreement with M State-Wadena regarding the use of college property, which is the old football field. The administration will be providing M State with a weekly use schedule in the future. The new agreement required the property to be in good condition. Board member Wayne Perkins' suggestion that photos be taken of the field as in its present condition and in the presence of an M State official was heartily endorsed by fellow board members and the administration.

John Paulson of the Community Center Board was on hand to update the District 2155 board on the possibility of a 45,000-square foot Wellness Center in Wadena. Precast concrete building material from a project in Ostego is available and could be erected on a site in Wadena for $750,000. Interior work on the building would push the price to just under $4 million. The school is a key player in the Wellness Center project because it might wish to lease gymnasium or swimming facilities. The Wellness Center board is interested in knowing what the school's needs would be in the building of a center.

Paulson stated Thursday that any work on a Wellness Center would not begin until May 2012.

Paulson also informed the board that bids were being sought for the erection of a structure over the existing hockey rink. Building material from a hockey arena in Crookston are available and Paulson hopes that a structure could be put up for $500,000-$600,000.

The local hockey season begins in November. The Wadena-Deer Creek boys and the Long Prairie-Grey Eagle girls' hockey teams both held hockey games in Wadena last year. A decision was made earlier this year to bring more hockey games back to Wadena along with practice sessions. District 2155 has a history of renting ice time on the local rink for its hockey teams.