Board invests in return of choir program 

Terry Karger

By Robert Williams


Frazee-Vergas Superintendent Terry Karger encouraged school board members to concentrate on retaining staff this year and find other cuts in the capital budget to help build on what has been a consistently improving year at both schools.

“Our enrollment continues to trickle up,” Karger said. “This year has been a very solid year for us as far as enrollment which then impacts finances and drives a lot of different avenues and it’s looking better and better.”

At the elementary, Principal Travis Nagel reported an increase of one student in February for a yearly-high of 418 students enrolled. High school Principal Jason Smith reported an increase of two students last month and a yearly-high of 400 students enrolled.

“Happy to see numbers going in that direction because that’s always a positive,” said Smith.

Karger noted that back in July of 2023, District Business Manager Chrissy Clapsaddle had reported a forecast of $462,932 deficit spending for fiscal year 2024. Current projects have nearly cut that in half at $250,000.

“That’s something we need to celebrate and I need to thank the staff and administration; we’ve made a lot of progress in trimming that deficit,” said Karger. “However, it’s still a deficit and we need to be aware of that.”

Typically, first cuts to the budget would come from staff, but Karger has seen such positive results from current staff that he wants to find ways to retain them.

“I think it’s important to share with you, looking at our focus area of investments, one of our strategies is how do we retain and maintain quality staff? We’re in a position where that should be our focus this year. We know we’re looking at $240,000 or $250,000 deficit, but I think the best way to keep this ship going in the right direction is to make a message out to our staff, ‘we want you all back,’” Karger said. “We’re going to invest time and we’re investing in you. We aren’t going to look at any more cuts here. We want to really hold on and value our staff.”

To do so, Karger noted that cuts will need to be made in the area of capital investments.

“I would rather us tighten up on things we think we need, maybe we can get by without, and have all of our staff here positive, working with our kids and bringing them all back,” said Karger. “We have to keep this going. I think we have a good, solid staff. A lot of new faces and a lot of good things coming and I would like to hold onto that if at all possible.”

Going against capital investment cuts in a sense, Karger also noted that increasing a half-time music teaching position to full-time is one improvement that needs to be invested.

Karger gave two reasons, if a choir teacher is not found the district will go two years without a choir program and to resurrect it becomes very difficult. 

The second reason is to attract a choir teacher in today’s hiring market, the position needs to be full-time.

“I understand completely that I’m adding to the deficit; I get that,” Karger said.

The superintendent basically stated having a choir offering for students outweighs the cost.

The hire went along with his complimentary remarks about the current staff and how prioritizing them, including a new choir teacher, is more important than other areas of the budget.

“My goal is to really pay attention to the stuff we buy rather than the staff,” he said. “I don’t want us to be the school that doesn’t have choir; that doesn’t sit right with me.”

Later in the meeting, the board voted unanimously to increase the choir instructor position to full-time from half-time.


Abigale Grossman was recommended for hire as a long-term substitute for language arts.

Jeremiah Prellwitz was recommended for hire as a junior high baseball coach.

Independent contract agreements were entered into with high school Principal Jason Smith; 0.5 activities director Nick Courneya and integration specialist Rebecca Matejka.

The resignation of an assistant varsity dance coach was approved, along with the resignation of Head Dance Coach Isabella Matejka


The Scholarships Award Ceremony this year is scheduled for Tuesday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m., in the high school gymnasium.

Hornet Pride

A donation of $50 was received for this year’s “Day of Caring” from Karen Cates. Day of Caring is typically held in May, but the exact date has yet to be confirmed.