Board elects Hawkins chair, discusses school attorney

By Rachel Kytonen

Gary Hawkins will serve as Chair of the Cambridge-Isanti School Board for another year.

During the board’s reorganizational meeting Monday, Jan. 9, the board unanimously elected Hawkins as board chair.

Also being elected to their positions for another year were Anne Nelson as vice chair, Jeanette Polzin as clerk and Tim Hitchings as treasurer.

During other organizational action, the board approved Knutson, Flynn and Deans Law Firm as the school district attorney. However, the board did have some discussion regarding the matter.

Board Member Lynn Wedlund said while she feels now would not be a good time to consider other law firms due to on-going negotiations, she was wondering when it would be an appropriate time to consider other firms. She mentioned the district has been with the same firm for many years.

Polzin said she feels Knutson, Flynn and Deans is doing a good job of representing the district during negotiations, and wondered why the district would want to change since it’s already getting a high level of service.

Board Member Jenni Caulk said she didn’t feel it would hurt to send out request for proposals (RFP’s) and explore all options.

Wedlund said even if the board goes out for RFP’s it doesn’t mean anything will change. She just felt the board should explore all options and felt it would be the “fiscally responsible” thing to do.

Following discussion, the board approved a motion to direct Superintendent Bruce Novak to begin preparing an RFP for the school district attorney while working with an ad hoc committee to discuss what types of criteria should be included in the RFP. Wedlund, Hitchings and Polzin were appointed to the ad-hoc committee.

A tentative timeline by Novak said RFP’s would be sent out in March and a decision by the board should be made at its June meeting.

CIHS kitchen renovation

The board approved action to go out for bids for a renovation of the commercial kitchen at the Cambridge-Isanti High School. The board previously discussed the matter at its Dec. 22 meeting.

Building and Ground Director Mark Eisenbacher explained the district has been working on the renovation project since 2007 regarding issues in the commercial kitchen relating to code regulations, ventilation, comfort and efficiency of the food service employees. He noted the district was issued a code violation from the Minnesota Department of Health to replace the ceilings in the commercial kitchen.

Project costs are estimated at $1.6 million, with the biggest portion of the cost relating to purchasing equipment. Eisenbacher said the design team most recently met Jan. 6 and the exact design is yet to be determined and options are still being considered.

Polzin asked Eisenbacher why this project is getting done before other projects.

Eisenbacher explained this project has been a part of the long range facilities committee. He said he makes recommendations to that committee based on what he sees as priorities. He said this project was viewed as a priority, but he can understand why some people might question its need.

“Unfortunately some of the projects relating to aesthetics don’t come as quickly as you’d like, but you have to make tough choices,” Eisenbacher said.

Eisenbacher said the project would begin right after school ends, and wrap up by Labor Day.

School Board Compensation

The board approved a motion to keep its school board compensation the same as last year.

School board members will receive $250 per month for regular and special school 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 or attend.

Board members will 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 also receive an additional stipend per months as follows: chair, $100, clerk, $60 and treasurer, $60.

The following activities are not eligible for reimbursement: social functions, school activities/meetings where the school 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:

• Designated the Isanti County News as the district’s official newspaper for the purpose of publishing legal notices.

• Approved the 2010-2011 school district audit as presented.

• Regular school board meetings will continue to be held the third Thursday after the first Monday of each month.