Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Board committed to sports cooperative

 


Citizens concerned about the future of the Moose Lake/Willow River sports cooperative filled the room at the Moose Lake School Board meeting on Monday, May 22.

Michael Olson, a freshman at Moose Lake High School, was the first to speak in support of continuing the cooperative.

Olson said he had written a petition and collected 270 signatures in support of the cooperative.

Board member Kris Lyons stated at the Moose Lake Sports Liaison Committee Meeting on May 16 that the statement in the petition about the schools sharing academically was wrong.

Olson explained he meant the students in each school benefit academically by participating in sports. He said he had copies of studies that prove his point and offered them to the board.

Andy Dahl, a football coach at Willow River, said sports are not about winning.

John Wesely said he commended Olson for taking action with the petition, adding that the cooperative is a wonderful thing. He also said when board members talk in the community, it stirs up rumors, scares the kids and affects them emotionally.

“Think before you speak,” he told the board members.

His comment was echoed by Guyal Nelson, who said he was on the school board and the committee when the cooperative was put into place, and it was set up to benefit the children.

“There are a lot of rumors going around,” he said. “I think that we should squelch them.”

Louie Butkiewicz, a former school board member, said he was also on the board when the cooperative was formed 30 years ago. “You’ve got to work it out,” he said. “As long as the kids want it, it is just for the kids.”

Butkiewicz also urged the board to complete the athletic complex.

“Let’s get this thing completed sometime, somehow,” he told the board. “We have such a neat school, we need the athletic complex completed. I want to be proud of it.”

Later in the meeting, when participation in the sports cooperative was discussed again, board member Jamie Jungers defended speaking about the cooperative in the community.

“To think that I need to watch what I say,” he said. “I think we should talk about this.”

In an email later that evening, when Jungers was asked to clarify his opinion about the sports cooperative, he stated: “A speaker insinuated that there were secret talks about getting out of the cooperative. I said that I’ve never been secretive about saying how I believe that our community would be better off without the cooperative. It’s just that we couldn’t if we wanted to because we haven’t improved or added to our athletic fields for the past 30 years.”

At the meeting, he expressed his regrets the cooperative agreement hadn’t been reviewed since the cooperative began.

“We did a disservice to the kids,” he said. “It bothers me that we didn’t sit down and talk about the cooperative agreement. We need to sit down every two or three years and review the agreement.”

The board also discussed making a commitment to the cooperative, as had been requested by the Willow River School Board at the liaison meeting of the full boards on April 24.

A motion was made, seconded and passed to direct Superintendent Robert Indihar to write a letter and send it to the Willow River School Board stating the Moose Lake School Board remains fully committed to the sports cooperative.

In his report, Indihar said he had been told earlier in the day the plans for a procession of school buses transporting students to the new school on June 1, the last day of school, will have to be cancelled.

“We don’t have substantial completion of the building and there are still workers there,” he said. “They are going to apply another layer of asphalt on the parking lot and there is the liability issue. We will not have a Certificate of Occupancy at that time.”

Indihar suggested the Transition Committee meet and discuss alternative plans.

Elementary Principal Kraig Konietzko spoke about the playground for grades 5-12 that will be built behind the new school.

He said the Playground Committee had met with Jay Webber from the Miracle Recreation Equipment Company and adjusted the plans and costs for the playground equipment.

The total came to $123,084, he said. The school would get a 1 or 2 percent discount for writing a check for that amount, he told the board.

The discount would bring the cost of the playground equipment down to or under the $122,000 maximum cost that will be available for the playground. The equipment will include two buddy benches and a sandbox.

The size of the playground would be 120 feet by 82 feet, said Konietzko. The contract will have to be signed quickly to order the equipment, which will be built at a factory in Missouri, he told the board. The company will still guarantee the equipment will be installed by Labor Day.

In other business, the board approved a quote from Como Oil to supply propane for the propane-powered bus fleet the school district will lease for the next three years.

Como Oil will also remove the diesel fuel tank near the bus garage, give a credit for it of $6,500, and replace it with a propane tank on the same site.

The athletic fees were raised by $5 but the maximum family rate will remain at $130, as was recommended by the liaison committee.

The board also approved 150 hours of summer band lessons.

The monthly meeting of the board was set for Monday, June 19, and the working meeting of the board was set for June 21. Both meetings begin at 6 p.m.

 

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