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School board members, union negotiators going to mediation

District 2155 and Education Minnesota, Wadena-Deer Creek Teacher's Union will go to mediation in August, in an effort to come up with a contract.

Mediation will be carried out by the Bureau of Mediation Services.

WDC teachers have been operating under the terms of their 2009-2011 contract, which was also mediated. It is unknown how long the mediation process will take before a new contract is signed. Until one is signed, teachers will continue to operate under their 2009-2011 contract.

The District 2155 School Board is still holding negotiations with the cooks and administrators unions. They have signed contracts with four groups: education assistants, bus drivers, confidential employees and administrator assistants, bookkeepers and custodians. The four contracts are valid through June 30, 2013.

"There are districts that don't settle for a long period of time," WDC Superintendent Virginia Dahlstrom said. "Menahga is an example. Sometimes they have gone for four years without settling."

District 2155 School Board Chairman Steve Techam closed Monday's school board meeting after holding an open meeting for the first 45 minutes. He later said the closed session concerned ideas for negotiations with WDC's principals, not the teachers or the cooks.

"Mediators just try to get you together, and maybe sometimes that is all there is to it," Techam said, adding he felt the board has had a fair offer on the table for the teachers since last year.

"The offer was there last December," Techam said. "I don't want to say all the teachers know what it is, but the negotiators at least know."

The board approved a request by band instructor Lisa Weniger and her high school band members to attend the 2013 Music Educators Mid-Winter Clinic in February. The WDC band will present a 45-minute concert for state educators.

"It's a big deal for a school to have a band play at the convention," Weniger said.

Immediately after sharing the news with the school board, Weniger had a meeting in the elementary school with her band members and their parents.

"The group I met with was very excited," Weniger said. "They had lots of questions. The parents were just beaming."

Weniger anticipates having 65 band members in the coming school year. The trip to the Convention Center in downtown Minneapolis is also a Valentine's Day performance.

Weniger, who took over the high school band program in 2006, was thrilled to receive the honor and believes it is a terrific boost to the esteem of the program.

"It's not every year this is going to happen," Weniger said.

The board also hired Angie Derlinger-Moats as a kindergarten teacher, Dirk Schultz and Brian Maki as assistant football coaches, granted maternity leave to high school math instructor Chelsa Golberg and accepted the resignations of assistant football coaches Zachary Martin and Matt Jones.

The board also approved a contract with M State-Wadena, which will allow the little Kids Club (16 months to five yards of age) to remain at M State during the coming school year. The big Kids Club (for students ages six through 12), will continue to meet at the elementary school. Dahlstrom recommended the step due to space issues. The clubs meet after school hours.