Karger approved to lead through next three years

By Robert Williams


The Frazee-Vergas school board announced resignations, new hires and contract extensions as the district wraps up the current fiscal year this summer.

A three-year extension for superintendent Terry Karger got the most discussion. Board chair Thaddeus Helmers announced Karger’s past contracts had been compared to superintendent’s across Minnesota and had fallen near the bottom of that pool. Minnesota state law limits superintendent contracts to three years and the three-year period is standard for the position.

According to Wilder Foundation research scientist Justin Hollis, Minnesota is in a projected talent shortage with the labor force expected to be 239,000 workers short of the nearly 3.2 million needed to keep pace with economic growth statewide. Superintendents are one position that has been in a national workforce shortage since 2016.

For Helmers, the need to extend Karger’s contract is as much about his familiarity and experience in the district as it is to keep the position filled.

“Year one, we’re looking at a bunch of construction in our district and we’re about to embark on budget cuts in this district,” Helmers said. “We have to have someone here who knows the district, been around and knows where we’re projected to go. Year two of this contract we will actually make those cuts…I think it makes sense to have a superintendent who knows our teachers, our union and knows the thoughts we would have as a board and how best to proceed on that. Year three, that is when the dust begins to settle from these things we have done and I would prefer having a superintendent here that knows the district, knows what we were just through and can set up the district for the future. In year three, to me, is when the district is going to start looking to the future.”

Discussions revolved around the length of the contract and conclusions were made that a one-year agreement would do little to help alleviate the current situation and would not be appealing to Karger or any other superintendent in Minnesota.

The vote to extend his contract was passed 5-2 with Tyler Trieglaff and Michael Frank casting the two no votes.

Karger, a former principal at Frazee-Vergas, was hired as superintendent in 2013.

Other contracts

Elementary principal Travis Nagel’s one-year extension was unanimously approved.

Resignations were accepted from: elementary paraprofessionals Karla Kniep and Coralene Guhlke; elementary special education teachers Lexy Dunbar and Jamie Wothe and elementary special education paraprofessional Eva Garcia.

Megan Galligan resigned from the prom advisor position. Jim Jacobson resigned from the Frazee Students Against Drunk Motoring and More advisory role.

In sports, Jason Reierson resigned as the head girls basketball coach and will be replaced by Trey Heinsius. Todd Larson resigned as the junior high track coach.

Announced hires include: Ryan Vigen as a temporary alternative placement/homebound teacher position; Jennifer Nannenga K-6 general music and 7-12 choral music teacher; Chad Heimer as  a high school physical education teacher; Kindergarten teacher Kari Dahlgren; Amber Lorentz and David Foster as elementary teachers; Amy Malikowski as a special education teacher and Michelle Sharp for summer technology help.

Kathrine King’s contract was renewed as the Positive Community Norms (PCN) media consultant, a position that is funded by the PCN grant.

Activities director Nick Courneya will also be the acting truancy director for the coming school year. Courneya also acts as the speed and strength program director. 

Summer recreation

The summer recreation program financing is currently on hold until the end of the fiscal year so that the district and the city can work through expenses. Information on the summer rec programs can be found on the school website frazee.k12.mn.us; under the departments drop down menu select community education.

Hornet Pride donations

The district received a number of donations from the community including $500 from the Frazee Lions Club for state FFA convention costs and $300 from the Frazee Volleyball Boosters for the weight room.

“It’s always great to see those donations into the district; it shows that the community does want to be involved and supports the events that we have,” board chairman Helmers said. “Those are very much appreciated.”

Dacotah Paper Company donated garbage bags for the school’s Day of Caring. Donations were received during the Day of Caring from: Gregory Dahlgren $100; Don and Diane Westrum $200; Jane Kunz $100 and Gloria Beck $10.

Early Childhood 

Family Education

According to Karger, the school has solidified a survey for early child development that will be sent to parents of children 0-5 years of age in the district.

Those who have already enrolled will get the survey via email. It will be posted on the school’s website, Facebook page and in the newspaper.

The district has struggled in the past obtaining all the addresses of families with kids of the targeted age bracket.

“We want to know what they want in order to get more kids in our school,” Karger said.

The Early Childhood Family Education department is undergoing changes this coming school year after the resignation of longtime coordinator Karrie Schultz.

The board will meet again around the end of the month to present the budget and potentially approve the long-term facility maintenance expenditures.

The July board meeting will be held Monday, July 11 with a working session to discuss building safety and security. A late July tour of the current construction being done at the school is also planned.