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School Board votes not to fill open seat for remainder of term

MORRIS – On Monday, the Morris Area School Board voted to leave a vacant seat on the board empty for the remainder of the year.

The seat was vacated in June when Christy Hubbard, a former member of the Cyrus School Board, resigned. At the time, the board voted to have the executive committee to determine how to proceed.

This week, the board received guidance from the Minnesota School Board Association that the seat could be left vacant, since it will be eliminated at the end of the year as part of the consolidation agreement between Cyrus and Morris Area.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2015, the board will go from 13 members down to nine members. It will further reduce to seven members in 2017.

Board chair Kurt Gartland said he recommended leaving the seat empty because he felt the board’s current size offered adequate representation for the community and filling the position would not bring a material benefit to the district.

Board member Lory Lemke said that he felt the position should be filled to make the board complete. Lemke suggested that Mike Odello, one of the two candidates who filed for two four-year seats on the board, could fill the vacancy.

The other candidate for the four-year seats, Doug Stahman, currently serves on the school board.

Board member Brent Fuhrman said he didn’t like the idea of opening the seat up to just one person, arguing that it should be open in a public process or not filled for the rest of the term.

“I don’t want to try and sway anything because of your decision,” concurred board member Jamie Solvie.

The board eventually voted unanimously to leave the seat vacant, with Stahman abstaining.

Meeting set to discuss 2015 levy

The Morris Area School District will discuss and approve the 2015 – 2016 levy on Monday, Dec. 22 at 7 p.m. in Room C100 at Morris Area Elementary School.

State law requires school districts set a date and time, with an opportunity for public input, a date to discuss and approve proposed school levies.

The board will approve a preliminary levy at a regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 22. The final levy approved in December cannot be larger than the preliminary levy set in September.

Other business

  • The board voted to hold their Sept. 22 regular meeting in Morris and moved their Oct. 20 meeting to Donnelly.
  • The board voted to lease an additional van for special needs transportation. Transportation Supervisor Deann Recker said the cost can be recouped through special education funding. At the end of the lease, the district will have the option to purchase the vehicle.
  • The board approved hiring Chrissy Oachs of Herman as a teacher at Morris Area Elementary School.
  • The board accepted the resignation of administrative assistant Jenny Ver Steeg.
  • The board accepted a donation of $2,500 from the Morris Area Sports Boosters to repair the district’s tennis courts.