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Verndale parents ask WDC board to reconsider hockey request

Matt and Alicia Jones brought a prepared statement to Monday evening's meeting of the Wadena-Deer Creek school board in the Robertson Theater. The Verndale couple would like the board to allow Verndale to rejoin the boys' hockey cooperative.

Alicia Jones could not hide her emotions or her disappointment Monday night as she read a prepared statement to members of the Wadena-Deer Creek school board.

Jones is upset the board took no action in July on a request by Verndale superintendent Paul Brownlow to allow Verndale to rejoin the boys' hockey cooperative.

"The hockey co-op is not creating the open enrollment problem in Wadena," Jones said Tuesday morning.

At the time of their July 9 meeting, the WDC school board was concerned that adding Verndale to the hockey co-op may lead to further open enrollment issues.

Figures from the June 5, 2014 issue of the Pioneer Journal indicated District 2155 lost 172 students to other districts during the 2013-2014 school year.

WDC superintendent Lee Westrum later said "they didn't think it was in the best interests of the school district."

Alicia's husband, Matt, was at her side Monday evening. Matt has been a teacher in the Verndale school district for 13 years. The family recently moved from Wadena to Verndale where their son, Mack, plays football and baseball. The Verndale freshman has played hockey in the Wadena Hockey Association and would be eligible to play high school hockey if he attended WDC or a school in the cooperative, which includes Staples, Browerville, Eagle Valley, Sebeka and New York Mills.

"We respectfully disagree it's an open enrollment issue," Matt said. "It's a hockey participation concern."

The Joneses are requesting the WDC board put Brownlow's request on their agenda again and vote on it.

Board chairman Steve Techam said Tuesday the request may be put on a board agenda again at some future meeting but added "they knew we were going to take any action last night."

With classes in Wadena ready to begin Sept. 2, the board also approved hirings, resignations and met new teachers at Monday's meeting.

The board accepted the resignations of Gerard Lehmkuhl (custodian), Kim Stafki (elementary nurse), Kristi Ice (secondary paraprofessional), Connie Collins (Kid's Club paraprofessional) and Tracy Dreger (Kid's Club director).

They gave the green light for the hiring of Rachel Logan (fourth grade), John Scheiding (custodian), Mary Jensen (ABE teacher), Jennifer Ness (Kid's Club Director), Jordan Heisler (Kid's Club paraprofessional), Jayne Johnson (Kid's Club paraprofessional), Jill Felt (elementary paraprofessional), Lloyd Danzeisen (assistant football), Danielle Jetvig-Renner (junior high volleyball) and Katie Hill (junior high volleyball).

New teachers introduced to the board included Logan, Scott Woods (fourth grade), Kevin Tumberg (second grade), Mary Ellenson (elementary music) and Tether Eckhoff (elementary special education).

Westrum introduced the board to the idea of sharing the services of Verndale business manager Brian Jacobson but did not ask for a motion.

Jacobson is a CPA who worked for Highland-Carlson before joining the Verndale administrative staff. He split his time between Verndale and Bertha-Hewitt last year but that agreement has ended because a full-time person has been hired by Bertha-Hewitt.

"I think having a CPA here to oversee our finances is a very good investment," Westrum said.