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School business manager resigns; may contract for Perham services

The Perham schools will be without a business manager by mid-June.

But if all goes as planned, present business manager Kristi Werner will continue keeping the books--but in a different capacity.

Werner, who has been full-time business manager in Perham for two years, accepted a financial management position with the Freshwater Education Service Cooperative.

The co-op provides education services to numerous districts in the region.

Perham School Board members and school officials intend to hammer out a deal with Freshwater, under which Werner will continue to manage the Perham district's finances--but on a contract with the co-op.

The move toward sharing services with other schools or entities is consistent with the board's objectives of reducing "non-education" expenses and streamlining operations.

"I see this as a real opportunity to build collaborative relationships and a first step toward sharing services," said School Board Chairman Jim Rieber at the May 20 meeting.

Freshwater may enter into contracts with other districts in the area, which would also use Werner for business management services.

"The Board will have to decide what to do," commented Perham Superintendent Tamara Uselman. "One option that looks the most fiscally prudent is to share business management services with another entity. On the one hand, it is frightening to consider a district our size not having a full-time business manager. Our budget is so tight we have had to operate within less than a two percent margin of error. On the other hand, because our finances are so tight and because our Board believes strongly in driving all possible dollars to the classroom where kids are served, we must consider sharing this service."

Superintendent Uselman is planning to submit a proposal on business management at the next school board meeting.