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Badger Board approves Tom Jerome resignation pending a GMR Board decision

For the past nine years–since July 2010– Tom Jerome has served as the Badger School Superintendent. The Badger Board made a motion that took a step in having that time end on June 30, 2019. In front of a filled Badger FACS Room, the Badger Board approved to accept Jerome’s resignation from the Badger School District pending the release of its administrative service contract with Greenbush-Middle River.

“I’d like to thank our district for everything that you’ve done for my family and for myself,” Jerome said. “Joining this school district July 1 of 2010, I put every ounce of energy I had into our students and this community. In the last nine years, (they) have been the most rewarding work years I’ve ever had, ever.”

On a Friday, May 4 evening, Jerome received word that he was being offered the Roseau Superintendent position, after applying for the job on the final day he was able to do so. He accepted the position on a Tuesday, May 7 morning and, according to a Roseau Times Region report, the Roseau School Board approved his hire the following day.

Jerome mentioned how much of a privilege it had been to work with the district’s students, “amazing” staff, residents, and school board members, ones who understand their role– to advocate for their students.

“I’m trying not to get emotional. I’ll stop wavering,” Jerome said.

He then pointed to the many great things this district has accomplished over his nine years. Some district successes during this time that he mentioned included: two FIRST Robotics World Championship visits, band performances in front of state-wide audiences, one-act play past successes, the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center student trip, the one-to-one technology initiative, and a fund balance increase of 1.3 million dollars.

“It’s been a privilege attending events at BGMR, advocating for BGMR students,” Jerome added.

He mentioned how he’s a dad with a child still attending the Roseau School District. He looks forward to working in the same building his child goes to school in each day.

“I’m not going to a better district. I’m not going to anything. I’m going to a different district and will do my best to serve that district,” Jerome said.

Board chairperson Jamie Isane said, “Thanks Tom. Thank you for everything you’ve done for us. Hard to thank you for everything, but there’s been a lot of good things that have happened around here.”

Following this thank you, those in attendance then began to clap.

Originally, the board made a motion to accept his resignation without any conditions. Board member Jim Christianson made the motion and board member Carol Rhen seconded the motion– both “reluctantly” they said.

“It’s been quite a run for nine years,” Christianson said after he made the motion.

Board chairperson Isane then asked for all those in favor, but before the board members could decide, board member Curt Hauger asked for some discussion, expressing some concern, particularly with the service contract with GMR as it relates to approving Jerome’s resignation.

Since July 1, 2012, the Badger School Board has shared Jerome’s services at a 60/40 percent split with the GMR District, as stated in this administrative contract. Badger has the 60 percent part of this split. This administrative service contract expires on June 30, 2020.

“I certainly do not have any problem going along with the motion. I think that we have a problem because… we went into an agreement with Greenbush and Middle River School Districts,” Hauger said. “In there, it was very specific that we provided Mr. Jerome’s services to Greenbush (-Middle River). If we accept this now before we get released from that contract, I think we are putting ourself in a very bad libelous situation.”

Hauger believed that the release of this contract from GMR should take place before accepting his resignation. Isane said they’ve had discussion about this.

Hauger later again said that he believed the right way to do it was to wait on making a decision on this resignation until the board gets a legal opinion and comes together at a special meeting.

“Not where we’re going by what you feel, or what I feel,” Hauger said. “But we do have a contract out there that we are not fulfilling. And if this body just wants to guess what Greenbush(-Middle River) is going to do, then you vote for it (the original motion). But I certainly don’t feel that’s the way to run business.”

GMR Board Chairperson Shane Kilen, at this meeting, said his board was holding a special meeting the next day (May 14), but only to discuss its options, not to make any decisions on the resignation. A decision to accept Jerome’s resignation won’t take place until the GMR Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, May 20.

Later, Jerome asked if the district wanted to spend more funds on legal counsel or to wait to hear from GMR’s board first. The board didn’t take any action related to getting further legal opinion.

To see the complete Badger School Board story, read the May 15 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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