The Wadena-Deer Creek school board is looking outside the box for new public relations opportunities before the all-school reunion this June.

Board member Ryan Damlo also discussed marketing opportunities the district PR committee hopes to implement after making the decision to not use billboards from Lamar last year. One of the ideas is placing mini-billboards in Wadena, Bluffton and Deer Creek on areas the school already owns or possibly with Lions clubs. This idea elicited the most questions, including who would build the mini-billboards, the cost and if permits would be required. Board members Melissa Seelhammer, Dan Lawson and Damlo mentioned local businesses in Verndale and Wadena who could construct and design the vinyls for the mini-billboards.

Damlo shared the following ideas as well:

  • Window clings at the middle/high and elementary schools with inspirational messages;

  • Banners in the downtown area;

  • Banners at the elementary school in the style of those in the high school parking lot;

  • A new digital sign at the intersection of SW 2nd St. and Colfax Ave. with sponsors and landscaping;

  • Screens in the middle/high school like in the elementary cafeteria where announcements run;

  • A WDC element on the water tower when it is redone in a few years.

The committee desires to have as many of these additions in place by the all-school reunion as a way of promoting school spirit.

The school’s future growth is being measured by goals that are submitted to the WBWF each year. Superintendent Lee Westrum noted the state’s critiques received each year are not if the district has met the goals but how each of the goals are written. Each goal is written in the SMART format: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. The goals are in the categories of all students being ready to learn, grade-level literacy for third grade students, closing achievement gaps between student groups, all students career and college ready by graduation and all students graduating. The goals are made by an advisory committee of board members, parents, teachers, administration and support staff.

Middle/high school principal Tyler Church and elementary principal Louis Rutten shared nominations for Sourcewell’s Educators of Excellence, including seventh and eighth grade science teacher Brad Wollum, second grade teacher Keith Ferris and paraprofessional Jill Dilly. Church commended Wollum for the hands-on science experiences he provides for the students. Rutten commended Ferris for his leadership with technology and coaching and Dilly for her visual approach as well as reviving the reading lab.

Westrum also thanked the board members for their service and commitment in representing the students as a part of School Board Appreciation Week.

The last update Westrum shared was on an auction in the summer, similar to when excess items were auctioned off after the tornado. The items this summer will be from the Deer Creek school and WDC’s elementary and middle/high schools. The plan is to use the online marketplace Bid-2-Buy and stage the items in the Deer Creek school gym.

In other actions, the board approved:

  • The resignations/retirements of Carol Tornquist (Title I teacher), Holly Becker (fall and winter cheer advisor) and Keith Ferris (junior high girls' basketball coach).

  • The hiring of Scott Woods (head boys' golf coach) and Kevin Ross (head girls' golf coach).

  • The paying of the district’s bills totaling $395,790.55 and bond construction bills of $604,250.84. Donations were also received totaling $9,745 for the district and $1,750 for student activities.

  • A budget revision for the 2019-20 general fund of a $177, 280 deficit.
  • The hockey arena lease for 2019-20 and 2020-21 for $9,000 each year for hockey and ice skating. The lease is an increase from last year due to the addition of a junior varsity team.
  • A MSBA local control resolution to keep the school board’s local control rather than the legislature’s best intentions through mandates that can end up tying the hands of the board. Damlo and Westrum believe the practice is standard but that the delegate assembly has pushed for it this year. The ending portion of the resolution reads: “Wadena-Deer Creek supports local decision-making authority and opposes legislation that restricts the ability for locally elected school boards to respond to the needs of their districts, students and communities.” The delegate assembly will take the resolution to the Minnesota legislature.

  • An agreement for Jerald Nesland to continue as community education director in 2020-21 for $675.