The new 911 board gets to work

Cambridge-Isanti School Board
The Cambridge-Isanti School Board appointed Gary Hawkins as its chair during its reorganizational meeting Monday, Jan. 10.

Rachel Kytonen
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The Cambridge-Isanti School Board appointed Gary Hawkins as its chair during its reorganizational meeting Monday, Jan. 10.

Hawkins began his term on the school board in January 2009. He retired in June 2008 after 38 years of teaching within the district.

The board appointed Anne Nelson, vice-chair; Jeanette Polzin,  clerk; and Tim Hitchings, treasurer.

Pictured: District 911 newly-elected board members, Lynn Wedlund, Tim Hitchings, Jenni Caulk and Mark Becker take the Oath of Office during the during the reorganizational meeting Jan. 10. The oath was given by board member Anne Nelson. (Photo by Rachel Kytonen)

Hitchings, along with Lynn Wedlund, Jenni Caulk and Mark Becker were officially sworn in as board members at the beginning of the meeting. All four successfully ran for election in November.

Regular board meetings will again take place on the third Thursday, following the first Monday, of each month. Meetings are held at 7 p.m. at the District Education Office located on North Main Street in Cambridge.

School District Attorney

In what is usually a routine appointment of Knutson, Flynn and Deans Law Firm as the school district attorney, quite a bit of discussion occurred this year.

After a motion was made and seconded to continue with the firm, Wedlund brought up some concerns.

“I recommend looking at another law firm,” Wedlund said. “I feel there are some conflicts between Mr. Flynn and negotiations’ people. I feel there was some language used by the law firm that is not appropriate, and feel the school district is not given enough information.”

Polzin suggested the new board members meet Joe Flynn.

“I don’t find Mr. Flynn offensive,” Polzin said. “I think we need more details and to compare costs on something like this. I’ve worked with Mr. Flynn on negotiations. He’s done contracts and done some behind-the-scenes work.”

Hawkins agreed with Wedlund.

“I know Joe Flynn is not always respectful of staff members,” Hawkins said. “There have been many hurt feelings over the years… If we continue with Knutson, Flynn and Deans Law Firm, maybe we can continue with another attorney.”

Novak said the district has been using the law firm for over 30 years. He stressed the firm works for the school district, and it needs to be accommodating to the board’s wishes.

“Knutson, Flynn and Dean are versified enough to handle special eduction and legal issues,” Novak said. “We worked with five different attorneys from that firm last year. Their history with the district is an advantage to us, especially with litigation.”

After discussion, the board approved a motion to continue with Knutson, Flynn and Deans Law Firm by a vote of 6-1, with Wedlund voting against.

The board directed Novak and Hawkins to meet with the law firm and indicate the district would like another lawyer named as the district’s “go-to lawyer.”

School Board Compensation

The Board approved a motion to continue school board compensation as the same as it was presented in January 2009.

Under the school board compensation policy, members will receive $250 per month for regular and special board meetings. The $250 also includes all non-pen and paper meetings that may or may not be Board-related that Board members are asked to represent and attend. This includes, but is not limited to, all representative committees, any school building Adopt-A-School visits, student and staff recognition/award programs, school open houses and back-to-school workshops.

Members will also receive $65 for participating in all standing and ad hoc committees under four hours and $130 for committee meetings over four hours.

The chair, clerk and treasurer will receive an additional stipend per month as follows: Chair (Hawkins), $100; clerk (Polzin), $60; and treasurer (Hitchings), $60.

Activities not eligible for reimbursement include social functions, school activities/meetings where the board has not been officially invited or requested to attend, informal meetings with school personnel and phone calls related to school board activities.

In other action the board:

• Approved the expulsion of two students for a period of 12 months. It was noted the students have been placed in alternative education programs.

• Designated the Isanti County News as its official newspaper for 2011.

• Held a closed session regarding the termination of a school district employee who has not shown up to work since Nov. 18, 2010.