School board veterans say ‘farewell’

Sue Kraft, Lifestyles Editor
Mike Klemetsrud (left) accepts a plaque of appreciation from Business Manager Scott Privratsky. Klemetsrud is leaving the school board after serving for eight years.

Monday night signaled the end of an era for the Devils Lake School Board.

It was the final meeting for three of the five board members — or sixty percent of the current board. They leave with a combined 37 years of experience.

Outgoing president Ed Brown served for 12 years, from 1999-2011. He recently lost a bid for re-election.

Mike Klemetsrud served for eight years, 2003-2011, and Steve Boone served from 1991-2000 and 2003-2011, for a combined total of 17 years. Boone and Klemetsrud both turned in resignations earlier this year for personal reasons.

Superintendent Steve Swiontek was absent from the meeting, but left behind a memo listing the accomplishments of the board while the three served. The list included the lawsuit bringing funding equity to schools in North Dakota, implementing full-day kindergarten, adding a number of activities to the district, including girls soccer, girls hockey, fast pitch softball and dance, and investing over $8 million in improvements to the district.

“These board members deserve not only our gratitude and appreciation but also deserve our highest level of respect,” Swiontek said. “School board members in our community serve not for monetary gain, but for the good of the students, parents and employees.”

Business Manager Scott Privratsky reiterated Swiontek's sentiments, adding, “It's been a pleasure having you on the board. The community has been blessed that you have served. You should be proud.”

“It's been an enjoyable 12 years for me,” Brown responded. “I've really grown as a person and as a board member.”

He added, “It's very rewarding to see the things we've done. I think we did very well.”

Klemetsrud said it has been great working on the board and although they faced a lot of tough decisions, he felt they made the right decisions most of the time.

“Eight years has gone by pretty fast,” he said. “Not long ago I sat at my first board meeting and thought, 'Wow, what's going on?'”

Boone said he was proud of the work they had done negotiating teacher salaries and credited the teachers and administrators for always keeping the students' best interests in mind — even when it created dilemmas for the board.

“I think as a school board member it keeps you on your toes,” he said.

Board members Kory Boehmer and Steve Halldorson also had great things to say about their outgoing colleagues.

Boehmer talked about what has been accomplished in recent history.

“The leadership we've had from our three veterans is what really helped us,” he said.

Halldorson agreed, “The leadership you guys have shown has been a great asset.”

Halldorson was recently re-elected to the board. At the next meeting, he and Boehmer will be joined by newcomers Veronica Nicla and Lee Ann Johnston. The final seat on the board will be filled at a later date.

Other business

• Board members discussed the Rural Education Agreement, which collaborates rural school districts for a number of joint endeavors. A memo from Swiontek said he was concerned about the services of the REA, but would advise the board to continue the agreement with them for the 2011-12 school year.

Boehmer suggested that Devils Lake doesn't receive many benefits of the REA because they are not as involved as they should be.

“I think as a district we don't utilize the REA like we should,” he said. “I believe we can do more.”

Boehmer said representatives from the district should start attending meetings and contributing to the conversations.

“There's a lot of things we can do to help and there's a lot we can gain,” he said. “I'm supporting the fact that we continue this.”

• The board reviewed a the bid sheet from the City of Devils Lake regarding the Prairie View bike path. The bid came in at $137,863, with a grant covering $117,000 of the cost. Privratsky said he hopes the school district will not have to contribute more than $15,000, with possible help from the Park Board.

• Board members approved tuition waiver requests from Jeff and Peggy Schooler of Lakota and Karen and Stan Howen of Leeds for their children to attend Devils Lake schools in the fall.

• A resignation from Adam Tunseth, grade four teacher at Sweetwater, was approved and three new hires were added to the district: Todd Lambrecht, physical education teacher at Sweetwater and Minnie H, Laurie Danielson, grade four teacher at Prairie View; and Jennifer Otto, kindergarten teacher at Sweetwater.

A number of positions remain vacant, including an auto instructor, German teacher, JROTC instructor and a couple of janitor positions. Activities Director Jason Wiberg announced there are also 14 coaching openings.

• A couple of notes were included in the board packet, including a request to teachers from the superintendent requesting some sort of observance on 9-11 and an announcement that there will be no more casual Fridays beginning with the new school year.

Business Manager Scott Privratsky (left) presents a plaque of appreciation to outgoing board member Steve Boone at the school board meeting Monday night.