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Mary K. Lepisto, Published May 06 2009

Frazee-Vergas school voters not getting clear information

The 2007 referendum was passed, yet there is talk about cutting teachers once again in the Frazee-Vergas (Minn.) School District. We were promised that the small classroom sizes in K-12 would be maintained if the referendum passed. Yes, in K-12; I was at the first referendum meeting on Sept. 27, 2007, and I was informed how important small class size was even in the high school. Haven’t we lost enough good teachers and staff already?

We were informed the referendum money could be used for repairs, yet we were taxed beyond the referendum money so the district could use the Health and Safety Fund for repairs.

According to Superintendent Deron Stender, as reported in the Frazee-Vergas Forum on Nov. 22, 2007, the cost to replace the boiler would be about $80,000 and to repair it would cost about $30,000. By April 16, 2008, the cost had jumped to an estimated cost of $1.2 million to replace the steam boiler with an electric and fuel heating system.

We were told the referendum money would be used to update curriculum and technology. Yes, we received new science curriculum and smart boards. Did the district check on grants to cover some of this? I am still wondering if the computers are new or used. According to the Becker County Record on July 9, 2008, Stender said the district purchased 200 computers, giving a new computer to each classroom and relacing four computer labs. Just a week later in the Frazee-Vergas Forum on July 16, 2008, Stender was reported to say the 208 computers the district received were secondhand from Detroit Lakes and Moorhead Public Schools. Which is it?

We need to keep track of the information we are given. Check out the facts. The local newspapers have Web sites to search for the information if you don’t want to keep the papers or go to the meetings. We need to let the school board and Stender know that we want to know the facts. We don’t want the information hidden. We don’t want information based on misconception.

If the current school board is not willing to keep track of the information given and check out the facts, “we” the citizens must. When school board election time comes again, we need to vote for the people who keep track of what is going on and speak up for what is right, what is best for this district.

I believe we need to clean house starting with Stender and many of the school board members we now have. I also believe we need to go back to hiring a business manager. Are we really saving $50,000 by having four people take over the business manager’s position? The people in this district work too hard for the money they have.

Let’s get our “united” school district back.