Wrenshall School Board postpones negotiations for principal contract

After the school board held a public evaluation of Principal Michelle Blanchard, they decided to postpone contract negotiations that were scheduled for May 25.

Wrenshall School File.jpg
Wrenshall School
Clint Austin / 2021 File / Duluth News Tribune
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WRENSHALL — The Wrenshall School Board voted 4-2 to postpone negotiations for principal Michelle Blanchard's contract, during a special meeting, Tuesday, May 24.

Michelle Blanchard
Contributed / Michelle Blanchard

The meeting was public for Blanchard's evaluation, which Blanchard requested, according to Superintendent Kimberly Belcastro.

Belcastro stated her support for Blanchard and gave her reasoning as to why she has done a great job in the district.

"We've had a very good year working together," she said.

Belcastro added Blanchard has done great work with getting students back to the basics when it came to disciplinary issues at the start of the year, with it being the first year back in school since the pandemic began.


"I really feel that (Blanchard) is ready to be here on a continued contract," she said. "It was a hard year, and it's remarkable to me the work we have accomplished."

Board members also praised Blanchard for her effort and job in her first year as principal.

Board member Ben Johnson, who substitutes in the district, agreed that it was a challenging year, but said Blanchard had handled everything extremely well.

Board chair Misty Bergman said she hadn't heard anything bad regarding Blanchard's performance.

"You're still here, so that's a good sign," she said.

However, when Johnson made a motion to allow for negotiations to begin with Blanchard, it was voted down, with only board member Nicole Krisak in support.

The motion to postpone negotiations was made by board member Jack Eudy.

Krisak asked Eudy why the board would want to postpone negotiations when there are five days left of school and no board members had anything negative to say.


"Tomorrow would not be beneficial (for negotiations) at this time," Eudy said. "We are just postponing, we are not saying it is not going to happen."

There was not more discussion on why the board would postpone the negotiations, and Belcastro asked Eudy if he would speak about "the elephant in the room."

Eudy declined and said a public meeting was not the place to have a discussion.

He did reassure Blanchard that his motion to postpone the negotiations was not based on her performance.

Board member Cindy Bourn shared the same sentiment as Eudy.

"It is not because of you (Blanchard), because you are quality," she said.

The board is tentatively planning to hold negotiations in a week or two.

The second public hearing on the topic is scheduled for March 9, and is being held after residents provided comments and concerns during the first hearing on Jan. 26.

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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