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Kirby remains chairman of Duluth School Board

Duluth School Board members (from left): Alanna Oswald, Jill Lofald, Josh Gorham, Nora Sandstad, Sally Trnka, David Kirby and Rosie Loeffler-Kemp. (Photo courtesy of Duluth school district)

David Kirby will once again lead the Duluth School Board this year, following his selection as chairman Tuesday night.

The board held its annual organization meeting, during which three new members were sworn in and new officers were chosen for the coming year. Kirby was selected as chairman after also serving in that role in 2017. Chosen as vice-chairwoman once again was Rosie Loeffler-Kemp, with Nora Sandstad voted clerk and new board member Josh Gorham voted treasurer. New board members sworn in included Gorham, Jill Lofald and Sally Trnka.

The board also approved several routine measures, including a resolution to authorize the superintendent of schools and CFO/executive director of business services to sign contracts and grants up to $25,000 without board approval. Board member Alanna Oswald asked to amend the limit down to $12,500.

"With our recent budget issues and concerns that we are dealing with, I don't believe that we should be just letting this happen with trust and assurance that we have the money to pay for it and are spending the money the way it's supposed to be spent," Oswald said. "I think it will build some public confidence that we're trying to rein in our finances and making sure that we are double-checking ourselves."

The resolution stated that "to increase operational efficiency," it authorized the superintendent and business director to "sign revenue contracts and expenditure contracts for the lease, purchase and contract for goods or services with budgetary and policy limits up to $25,000."

In 2017, there were 194 contracts — a combination of revenue, expenditures and no cost — signed by the superintendent and business director. Of those 194 contracts, 22 were for amounts between $12,500 and $25,000.

The amendment failed on a vote of 6 to 1 against, with Oswald the only board member supporting it. Other board members said they didn't believe the lesser limit would bring about much change. The resolution then passed with the $25,000 limit intact.

Adelle Whitefoot

Adelle Whitefoot is a Michigan native who moved to Minnesota in Sept. 2014 when she started as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle. She graduated from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., in 2012 with a bachelor's in English writing and has been a professional photographer since 2011. Whitefoot is the night general assignments reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. 

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