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Perham to use excess Community Ed money to hire new webmaster

With a plan to use excess revenues from the Community Education fund, the Perham-Dent school board approved the hire of a part-time employee to maintain the district's website.

School board member Mike Hamann was the only one to oppose the idea. He said any funds within the Community Education budget should pay for more classes, not a webmaster.

The Community Education fund cannot be transferred into the general fund, and instead must be used to pay for community education personnel or programming. The current preliminary budget shows $50,000 in revenue in the Community Education fund.

While the rest of the board agreed the new hire could write grants and begin rebuilding the community education program in the future, for right now, the most important part of the job will be to bring the website up to par.

Board member Cyndy Huber explained her view of community education: "Community Ed is what connects the community to the school."

"We have a 'disconnect' right now," Huber said, adding that using the website to bring the community back into school happenings could be the first step to reconnecting that link. "In order to jump start this (community education program), we need to get someone in here to do the work."

The current Community Education director, Fred Sailer, is kept busy doing many other jobs for the district. He is the head of the Alternative Learning Center, the Activities Director, and does some building and grounds maintenance.

"He wears many hats," Superintendent Mitch Anderson said, and doesn't have a lot of time to spend on community education, yet he holds the necessary licensure so he must stay in the position as Director.

Currently, the district's Community Education program has three main components: a fall musical, driver's education and early childhood education classes.

In the last 15 years, the community education program has been cut back because of financial restraints. However, with the growing revenue, the district is looking into ways to expand the program again, and according to the board, the website is a start.