District hires Student Support Coordinator
By Robert Williams
Student well-being was at the heart of the opening school board meeting of the Frazee-Vergas School District’s first board meeting of the year on Monday, Jan. 9.
Among other procedural actions, the board approved the hire of a Student Support Coordinator and received a full report by Stellher Human Services on mental health services provided to students K-12.
The district contracted with Stellher using the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund (ESSER). Students are aided by a mental health professional clinical trainee in each school and a school-based supervisor.
Stellher’s in-school services include individual and group skills and therapy designed to minimize disruption to the school day, while encouraging cooperation and communication. Counseling sessions do not become part of a student’s school record and all services are offered on a needs basis regardless of ability to pay allowing uninsured students also have access to mental health services.
Referrals are made by staff to Stellher school representatives and communications are had with parents, along with paperwork, prior to services being administered. Most students receiving mental health services typically meet once per week.
“I think what you guys are doing is incredibly valuable to our district and I wanted to thank you,” board member Daneele Shipman said. “I definitely knew there was a need before, but to see it documented like this is really eye-opening.”
Since September 1, there have been 34 referrals made at the elementary school with a current caseload of 18 students with six others in the process of being assessed. Noted focus areas at the elementary are anxiety, depression, trauma-related disorders and behaviors.
Since last March, there have been 73 referrals made at the high school with a current caseload of 24 active clients. A vast number of those referrals are from students who have graduated or left the district in the past 10 months. A dozen other students are in-process.
Self-harming behaviors, eating disorders, and grief from the loss of a fellow student last school year were among the biggest concerns and focus areas at the high school.
Anonymous information on demographics and primary diagnoses were also included in the report.
Stellher school-based supervisor Austin Decock pointed out the total number of clients in the past year of 51 and 592.67 hours spent with those clients by mental health professionals and how that complements school counselors and social workers.
Frazee school social worker Shannon Bakkila echoed those sentiments in a written recommendation of the benefits of having Stellher Human Services in the district the past year.
“I have seen only positive impacts from the additional mental health services provided by Stellher,” Bakkila said. “The staff members are very professional and knowledgeable and our district is fortunate to have them.”
Jerry Hanson of Frazee was hired as the new full-time, temporary, Student Support Coordinator position, which was created for the remainder of the school year. Hanson is a former principal who worked in multiple districts during his career: Cokato Elementary; Kennedy Elementary School in Fargo; Detroit Lakes Public Schools and Perham Public Schools.
In December, board chair Thaddeus Helmers noted the district was targeting someone to help support counselors and high school administration and address concerns the school has been receiving. The targeted candidate was an experienced educator, like a former principal or superintendent, to increase response times and increase interaction with students.
“The position will address supporting students who have social and behavioral concerns, assisting and responsiveness as student concerns are brought forth, assuring timeliness and privacy, working in collaboration with the principals and staff, communicating with parents and guardians of identified students and working with outside agencies to maintain records and reports,” Helmers said.
Elaine Palmer was hired as a long-term substitute teacher at the elementary school
The track and field program reduced the former two head coaching positions to one with the retirement of Brian Tangen in 2022. Jim Jacobson was recommended and hired for the head coach position. Todd Larson accepted the assistant coach role.
The district received a letter of resignation from LeeAnn Felix, the PCN Grant Coordinator, effective January 18, 2023.
Rock Brown was hired as a Food Service Worker.
The district received the Enrollment Options Applications for enrollment out of the District to: Detroit Lakes (1) and into the District from: Detroit Lakes (3).
Wild Rice Electric Trust Operation Roundup Program donated $1,000 to be applied toward school lunch accounts in arrears. According to superintendent Karger, the district has a set criteria for how those funds are distributed to accounts.
Board officers, committees
The election of board officers resulted in the same positions as the previous board: Thaddeus Helmers, Chairperson; Kimberly Antonsen, Vice Chairperson; Daneele Shipman, Clerk and Nathan Matejka, Treasurer.
Committee Appointment were as follows:
Negotiation and Personnel/Certified – Shipman, Helmers, Tammie Nunn
Negotiation and Personnel/Non-Certified – Matejka, Antonsen, Shipman
Matejak Antonsen Trieglaff (ANSA)
Curriculum and Policy – Helmers, Matejka
Budget and Facilities – Matejka, Trieglaff, Helmers
Community Education- Antonsen
Early Childhood Family Education – Antonsen, Trieglaff
Frazee Area Action Fund – Shipman
Meet & Confer -Helmers Shipman
Minnesota Rural Education Association – Antonsen
Minnesota State High School League – Helmers, Trieglaff
World’s Best Workforce – Helmers, Shipman