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Chisago Lakes Schools

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July 3, 2020

5/29/2020 11:41:00 AM
Hasler resigns as Director of Business Services, Kids Club sees major changes

The Chisago Lakes School District will be looking for  its third Director of Business Services since Heide Miller’s retirement at the beginning of 2018.

The first year was handled by Greg Anklan before Miller came back for an interim stay, until Doug Hasler took over in January of 2019. Hasler is leaving the district after officially resigning at the Thursday, May 21 meeting.

He’s headed to Lake Superior School District to be business manager. The district is just 25 minutes from his home in Duluth.

“I appreciate the opportunity to have served the Chisago Lakes School District, its Board, staff, and students,” Hasler said. “I believe that this school district has a promising future, and wish all who are working for that future the best of luck.”

“Doug has done a great job for us and we are happy he will have far more family time by working closer to home.  He will be missed,” Superintendent Dean Jennissen said prior to the meeting.

The district had already posted the job and is interviewing candidates this week. They set a special board meeting for Wednesday, June 3 at 6:45 a.m. to approve a new Director of Business Services.

The board then grappled with a decision on what to pay fall sports coaches and what’s in their contracts if the COVID-19 pandemic wipes out the fall season.

Currently, the fall sports coaches do not have a contract. Activities Director Jodi Otte brought it to the board’s attention that they would want to be proactive on fall sports and include any stipulations into the contract before coaches sign-off.

The two options board chair Mark Leigh presented to the board were paying head coaches and assistant coaches 50 percent, if the season was cancelled or paying just the head coach 50 percent and the assistants zero.

“It’s important to make a decision soon,” Otte said. “It’s kind of a process so I was hoping for a decision next month so we could issue and secure fall positions in case there are changes after your decision.”

Board member Lori Berg was the first to express her thoughts, saying, “I understand coaches are hard to find and we want to show respect and not lose them, but I have a small problem in that the fall coaches aren’t under contract yet and we’ve had to lay off other employees under the premise that we don’t have the funds to keep paying their salaries. I don’t want to get into a situation where it seems like we are subjectively deciding,” she explained. “We’d like to pay everyone but I just don’t want to send a message to food service workers and community ed workers that we can’t pay them, but we are going to go ahead and pay head and assistant coaches even if there’s no season.”

Board member Brenda Carlson, who is also the head coach for the Wildcats softball team and had a majority of its season cancelled this spring, said, “As a school board member, I look at the money and the numbers but then I put my head coach hat on. I’ve been dealing with kids -- not in a bad way -- but  dealing with kids constantly. You don’t get into coaching to get paid and I do know it’s hard to retain coaches. It’s already hard to get them to commit because you don’t get paid much. How can we maintain that we still want from them without paying them?”

Carlson said that personally, in that hypothetical situation, she’d rather her assistants get paid than her, so she didn’t love the idea of assistants getting zero.

Spring season head and assistant coaches were paid their full stipends since the season had already begun and a majority of the season was spent working with the kids remotely with the possibility of the season resuming at some point.

To Berg and Carlson’s point, Otte said, “These coaches prepare for these activities months in advance. It doesn’t just start in August and end in November. They have constant contact.”
Leigh, longtime boys soccer head coach who has been retired a few years, said, “As a coach, you prepare all year round. You can drop your guard a little bit when the season is over, but that’s only for a short time. You’re thinking about things, you’re talking about things, meeting with your assistants. I would already be thinking about fall and talking to kids and figuring out what they would be doing for summer programs.”

Leigh went on to say that in his opinion, they should pay both the head coaches and assistant coaches 50 percent of their contract if the fall season is cancelled. “I think we have to get people on board and get them under contract with the understanding that they’ll get somewhat of a stipend if the season is cancelled,” he said.

Board members Dani Strenke and Melissa Donovan seemed to agree while board member Jerry Vitalis said he didn’t have anything to add and was just listening to the other members discussion.

By the end of the discussion, the board seemed to roundly agree on 50 percent of the stipend in case of a cancelled fall season for head coaches and assistant coaches, but the official action would be taken at the June board meeting.

Community Education Kid’s Club is undergoing some big changes that will alter many families’ plans this summer. The club already had 215 registered kids starting early next month, but with new social distancing guidelines as well as new requirements for staff-to-student ratio, the start will be delayed from June 8 to June 22 and will be limited to just 150 kids. The price will also increase from $31 per day to $39 per day.

Tier 1 and Tier 2 healthcare workers who have children in the program will remain registered, but the rest of families  The first 50 registrations will go to Lakeside and the rest after that will go to the Primary School. Taylors Falls Elementary is not available this summer because of work on the sprinkler system there.

Community Ed Director Michelle Kleist said the fee increase is to help pay for the increase in staff and decrease in enrollment. “We’ve had to move from 15 kids per staff member to nine kids per staff member,” she explained. Jennissen also pointed out that despite the increase in price, Chisago Lakes is still on the bottom end of cost per day in comparison to surrounding districts. “There is a big need for this and it’s a big part of providing the community a service. We’d love ot have the capacity to do more, but we don’t,” the superintendent said.

In the superintendent report at the end of meeting, Jennissen brought up the fact that the board had started talking about a levy referendum to vote on in the fall, but since then, things had obviously changed. He asked the board for their thoughts on it and initially, no one offered up their opinion. As Jennissen continued, however,  board members started to find some words on it and they seemed to be unanimously against asking for anything this fall. “I know it’s going to be hard to wait another year, but with the economy the way it is and national election coming up, I think it would be really hard to ask,” Vitalis said.

“It’s such a hard time to ask anyone for anything,” Berg said. “Our need is still there and our margin is tight and we know that. Our plan was to tell our story and add to our resources, but with COVID and unemployment levels, it’s difficult to tell our story.”

“There’s a certain level of discomfort that all of us have felt,” Leigh added. “It’s getting better for some and worse for others. There’s a bigger story to tell and no one wants to listen to our story right now. I don’t hear anyone saying it’s a good time to move forward with a referendum.”

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