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Board offers Dahlstrom new contract package

The Wadena-Deer Creek school board unanimously voted to offer a new contract package for Superintendent Virginia Dahlstrom at its meeting Tuesday night in the WDC Elementary Library.

Dahlstrom, who had been in St. Paul Tuesday morning, attended the 5 p.m. board meeting but had to leave during a closed negotiating session because "she was not feeling well" according to board chairman Ann Pate, who is hopeful of arranging a special meeting this week with Dahlstrom.

While the board had been "in negotiations" with Dahlstrom regarding a new contract, it was not until Jan. 25 that she received a written contract offer. That offer was not made on a unanimous vote. Dahlstrom responded to the offer Tuesday night by informing the board that there were different parts of it which she was interested in negotiating. The board addressed those issues and came up with the new package.

A portion of Tuesday's long meeting was closed to deal with some issues which board chairman Ann Pate called "confidential." It was then reopened for the contract negotiations as required by state law.

Dahlstrom has been a finalist for two superintendent positions in southern Minnesota this year. The most recent was in Red Wing. She began applying for other positions because she did not have a written offer from the District 2155 board.

Dahlstrom, who is in the final year of a three-year contract, is seeking a two-year contract with a raise in salary and benefits which her original contract did not offer. District 2155 was having financial difficulties at the time Dahlstrom joined the district in 2008 and could only offer her a skeletal contract.

During Dahlstrom's time as superintendent, district voters passed a two-part levy referendum and the general fund balance has improved dramatically. The June 17, 2010 tornado that destroyed the WDC secondary school added responsibilities for finding classroom space for students and arranging for the rebuilding of a new school.

"She's being very, very reasonable," Pate said. "What she is asking for is in line. She is asking to be treated as a norm."