Fillmore Central board discusses
ownership of country school property
Wednesday, February 05, 2014 3:13 AM
The Fillmore Central School Board discussed its ownership and possible sale of a parcel of land during its meeting last Wednesday, Jan. 29. The board discussed the history of the parcel, the district's responsibility for the land and the possible ramifications of selling the parcel of land.
The land in question is an acre of wooded land about two miles south of Preston off of Highway 17. This used to be the property of a country school. In the 1950s, it was incorporated into the Preston-Fountain School District, which eventually became Fillmore Central.
Throughout the years, between acquiring the land and 1965, the land was supposedly deeded over to a private landowner. That person then deeded the land over to the Junior Chamber of Commerce for the Boy Scouts' use.
Since then, the Junior Chamber of Commerce has disbanded and the tax bills were being sent to the Preston Chamber of Commerce. Until the past few years, the Chamber of Commerce paid the bills without question. But in the past two years, the chamber members have begun to wonder.
As yet, no deed has been found to say the land belongs to anyone other than the school district, the Chamber representatives have brought the issue back to the school district as the original owner. Superintendent Richard Keith also told the board there are issues with the official legal description of the land, which describes it as being in the middle of the field, with no easement for access.
The school board was approached with this problem back in 2008, but with the hope of a deed being found and the desire to avoid the legal fees, the board decided not to take any steps to resolve the issue.
Now the issue has resurfaced with no deed being found. However, attorney Scott Springer is now involved and is willing to work with the district and the chamber of commerce to clear the matter up.
The board has discussed the possibility of giving the land over to The Gamehaven Council for the Boy Scouts' use, since the Boy Scouts themselves cannot own land. The district has not yet received an answer as to whether the Gamehaven Council would be willing to acquire the property.
As a result, the issue was tabled until the next school board meeting in February.
With the beginning of a new year came elections of the board officers for the coming year. Ross Kiehne was nominated and approved to continue as the chairman of the board with Craig Britton as the vice-chairman. Sue Sikkink continues as the treasurer and Shelly Topness remains as vice-clerk. Jim Love was elected to replace Deb Ristau as clerk.
Most of the board members also opted to remain on the committees assigned to them for the past year. However, Emily Ellis has moved to be the board representative on the Special Education Advisory Council and Sue Sikkink moved to the Meet and Confer committee.
Along with the election, the board discussed leaving the board's salaries as is or changing them. The vote was unanimous to leave the salaries as they had been last year.
The salaries are $1,440 for the chairperson, $1,080 for the vice-chairperson, clerk and vice-clerk, $1,350 for the treasurer, $1,080 for the director and $25 for extra meetings.
The 2014 Driver Training Fees have been recommended to remain the same as last year. This was approved by the board.
Not long ago, the school needed a truck to pull its activities trailer. Currently, the school owns a 22-year-old pickup which is primarily used for custodial work. After taking the pickup to the mechanic, the board has been advised to buy a new truck since the cost of the repairs would be more than simply buying a new truck. The board then approved purchasing a 2003 Chevy Silverado from McKean's in Harmony for $9,500 and the trade-in of the old pickup.
The lease for the copier the Root River Program has been using expired this winter. The district has received a new proposal for a different copier which will decrease the cost and not include a second paper tray. The copier would fulfill the needs of the program. The new lease was approved by the board as well.
Brian Feight, a student from Minnesota State University in Moorhead, is completing a special education and school finance practicum. He has asked to shadow the director of special education for 160 hours this winter and spring to fulfill the requirements of his degree, which the board approved.
A Harmony easement agreement was brought to the board for approval in order for the city engineer to be able to update the easement prior to the funding and beginning of the street reconstruction and sidewalk improvement this summer. The current easement is uneven and falls a few feet short of the reality of the sidewalk location. They were not asked for more land, but simply to allow the paper records to match. It was approved.
The date of the next school board meeting has been changed to Wednesday, Feb. 26, due to conflicts with basketball games on Tuesday, Feb. 25. Other board members were not available later in the day on Feb. 26, so the time for the meeting will be 7 a.m. and will be held in Preston.
Finally, the board discussed how to include the community more with the school system in order to create a more positive experience for the kids and the school. Ideas included promotion on social media and in local newspapers.