The Hastings School Board’s annual organizational meeting was held over for a week because of inclement weather. It was held Wednesday, Jan. 11.
Lisa Hedin was elected board chair at the meeting, taking the reins from Brian Davis, who nominated her for the post. He served for the last 12 months.
After 20 minutes of discussion, the board settled on an agenda for the meeting and went to work.
Carrie Tate was also nominated as chair by Jessica Dressely. Hedin won the seat by a 5-2 vote.
Hedin was also chair in 2017-18.
Davis’ last official action as chair was overseeing that board ballot.
“At this time, Chair Hedin, I will be switching seats with you,” he said. “Congratulations.”
Hedin took her seat at the head of the board table and ran the rest of the meeting.
Stephanie Malm remains as vice-chair, winning by the same 5-2 margin over Tate.
Becky Beissel also remains board clerk, winning over Dressely, again 5-2.
Davis was then elected board treasurer on a unanimous ballot.
The board then handled routine annual business, naming banks as depositories of district funds. The Hastings Journal was reaffirmed as the official newspaper of the school district unanimously.
The board decided to again start to receive a salary for the elected position. The last two years, the board has voted to go without pay.
The board unanimously approved the pay rate in line with what was paid in 2020: $4,750 annually for the board chair and $4,250 for board members.
“We are the only board within Dakota County that’s choosing to take no compensation,” said Hedin.
Board members were given a comparison of what other county districts pay board members.
“Out of our seven comparable districts, the average would be $5,000. I’m completely fine to going back to what it was in 2020,” said Dressely.
Beissel was the lone vote against that proposal.
Hedin will make appointments to standing committees. The board is doing away – for the time being, at least – with its finance committee, as Hedin expressed the opinion that finances should be the work of the entire board. The community engagement and policy committees will remain, as well as board appointments to entities like the Minnesota State High School League and legislative groups.
Tate also suggested forming an executive committee to help plan meetings and oversee board functions. Hedin didn’t feel that committee is necessary.
The board also voted to suspend – for four months – the ability of board members to bring up future agenda topics at the close of the regular meetings. The practice started last year. Hedin said that the board has been left with unfinished business from last year that it needs to get done. However, if something important comes up, she said it will be addressed at board meetings.
She said the practice of the board members requesting agenda items isn’t in line with board policy.
“We have an identified process in our board handbook,” she said. “I’d like us to be more disciplined.”
Tate said that the practice was started because board members were requesting through emailing the chair and superintendent on items they wanted the board to talk about.
“The reason we moved to the process, some of it was my own frustration. I would request items to be added to the agenda in an email, and I was told no. That request never made it to the whole board,” she said. “We should be presenting our ideas for conversation to our entire team.”
Malm described the break in adding agenda items as a “tactical pause.”
“One of my biggest frustrations over the last three months, and I verbalized this, things keep being put onto the agenda, and we’re not getting things done,” she said. “Four months I think is OK. I would also like a caveat. If by February, we find out we’re at a place where we can add additional items, we bring it back on the agenda. I also don’t want it to be something where nobody for four months can ever propose anything.”
She said items need to be brought to the board chair. She said a lot of the process is the board still getting to know each other, after three new board members were elected last year. She said the board is “developing a little more trust in each other” after the last year, but the adding of agenda topics “has become too much.”
“I feel surprised every single time you bring something to the table with future topics. We end up having these long discussions on future topics. I don’t know if it’s been useful. At this point, I think we revert back. We need to find a different process,” said Malm.
The motion for a four-month suspension of allowing board members the ability at the end of meetings to add to future agendas passed by a 4-3 margin. In favor were Hedin, Malm, Beissel and Mark Zuzek. Opposed were Tate, Dressely and Davis, who felt four months was too long.