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Ely school board settles in for 2024

Anne Oelke and Ray Marsnik at the Legislative Meeting.

Marsnik re-elected chair, pay goes up with inflation, Echo official paper


by Tom Coombe

Ely’s school board remains intact this year and members will carry on with the duties they had in 2023.

Longtime chairman Ray Marsnik was re-elected chairman Monday, and the district’s longest-serving board member will continue in a post he has held since the mid-2000s.

Marsnik, an Ely native who was an elementary teacher in the Biwabik and Mesabi East districts, has served continuously on the board since winning election in 2001.

Minus member Tom Omerza, who was absent because of his coaching duties with the high school girls basketball team, the board approved several housekeeping items during a brief reorganizing session that was part of the regular meeting, their first of 2024.

The board’s officer slate remains intact, with Marsnik continuing as chair and Rochelle Sjoberg, who is second in seniority, continuing as clerk.

Omerza was re-elected treasurer with Tony Colarich, Jen Westlund and Hollee Coombe all rounding out the six-member group.

Among the other organizing tasks included setting board compensation, which because of inflation rose to $230 per month plus $66 per study session, with the chairperson receiving the same stipend plus an additional $66 per month. Board members also get a $30,000 life insurance policy.

Once again, the Ely Echo will serve as the district’s official publication.

Ely’s only locally-owned publication submitted a bid of $8.28 per column inch for display and public notice advertising.

Board members also set the lineup for a slew of district committees, maintaining the same roles they had in 2023.

Marsnik and Colarich serve on the facilities committee with Omerza and Westlund joining superintendent Anne Oelke and district finance manager Spencer Aune on the budget and finance committee.

Marsnik, Sjoberg and Coombe are part of the meet and confer/grievance committee while Sjoberg, who leads the human resources team at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital, is part of all of the board’s negotiating committees.

The board also assigned members to more than a dozen other committees and groups.

In other business, the board:

• Received the January enrollment report, showing 533 students enrolled in grades K-12, with 199 students in Washington Elementary (grades K-5) and 334 in the Memorial Middle/High School (grades 6-12). The largest class is the seventh grade (62 students) and the 19-member kindergarten group is the smallest.

• Designated the Klun Law Firm as legal counsel at a rate of $125 per hour.

• Approved a resolution authorizing the administration to make recommendations for budget reductions, if necessary.

• Hired Stacy Hegfors for the elementary secretary position. She is transferring from another position within the district.

• Approved a job description for a media center aide position and reduced the time for that job to 15 hours per week. It previously was a 32 hour per week job.

• Approved the district’s membership in the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools, including yearly membership dues of $1,250.

• Set mileage reimbursement rates for 2022 at 67 cents per mile, in accordance with IRS standard rates.

• Designated the second Monday of each month for regular board meetings and the fourth Monday for study sessions, both starting at 6 p.m.

• Received a summary of fall activities and a report on holiday hockey, boys basketball and girls basketball tournaments held over the holiday break.

• Hired Anna-Lena Forsman as a paraprofessional.

• Hired Wendy Lindsay to serve as musical choreographer for the production of Frozen and accepted Tatianna Riabokin’s resignation from the same post.

• Approved a revised staff development plan.

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