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Speaking his piece

By Staff | Aug 16, 2015

Blue Earth Area School Board chairman Frankie Bly was just about to gavel last Monday night’s August meeting to a close when one of the School Board members asked to be able to speak to an issue.

Jesse Haugh, who recently was appointed to fill an open position on the board after having served nine years previously, said he wanted to talk about the new school in Winnebago.

“I think there is some misconception out there of what Blue Earth Area’s relationship is with the new Genesis Academy school in Winnebago,” Haugh said. “I think we need to share that we (BEA) respect what they are trying to do and that we will have a relationship with them now and also later.”

Haugh, who lives in Winnebago, related how he attended parochial school in Easton for eight years when he was growing up in Delavan.

“There is nothing more noble than people who form a parochial school based on religious beliefs,” Haugh said. “We want to take nothing away from their desire to start a school in Winnebago.”

Haugh said he felt it was a trust issue and that some people in Winnebago look at Blue Earth Area as the “big monster.”

“I don’t like what I am hearing that there is a public perception that we (the BEA School Board) have anything against Winnebago,” he said. “Closing the Winnebago School was a tough decision that needed to be made for the good of all the Blue Earth Area School District and I favored it. But we are not against the Genesis School being started and hopefully we will be a viable option for those students later on.”

School Board member Dawn Fellows agreed and pointed out that BEA has already been working with the Genesis Academy as they prepare for opening this fall.

“The public doesn’t always know what is going on and doesn’t realize we work for students throughout the district,” Fellows said.

Board chairman Frankie Bly pointed out there is a danger with social media spreading rumors and inaccurate information.

“When we make a decision, we have researched it and decide what is best for BEA as a whole,” Bly said. “There is no ‘us vs. them’ because we all want what is best for all of the kids living in the BEA School District, no matter where they attend school.”

The board also heard some information that dealt with their participation on the School Board.

Superintendent Evan Gough presented information on the salaries for area School Board members, including those in the Big South Conference.

“At last month’s meeting you directed me to do some research on this matter,” Gough said. “What it shows is that BEA School Board members are near the bottom when it comes to pay.”

Currently BEA board members are paid $50 for half day or monthly meeting attendance and $70 for a full day meeting.

In addition, the board chairman, clerk and treasurer receive $300 annually, in additional compensation.

Some area school districts pay board members an annual salary, between $600 and $3,000, as well as meeting pay.

And many board officers receive much higher pay than BEA’s $300. The highest is St. Peter which pays the board chair $4,800 annually, clerk $3,000 and treasurer $3,600.

Gough pointed out that the last time BEA’s board compensation was raised was in 1999, 16 years ago.

While the board discussed the matter again, they did not take any action on the matter.

Chairman Bly said anyone with suggestions on increasing compensation could email the information to him and he would compile it for the next meeting.