Large pool of candidates apply for superintendent
The Park Rapids School Board learned the "very positive profile" that's been developed for superintendent candidates "serves well in the work we do recruiting and screening candidates."
Brian Boettcher of BKB School Executive Search Consultants "arrived" at the meeting via Skype, board members communicating with him through the Internet Monday.
Thirteen applicants, four of them women, have expressed interest in the position held be Glenn Chiodo, who's retiring at month's end. The position closes today (Wednesday), with three or four additional candidates expected to throw their hats in the ring by deadline.
The board will meet at 1 p.m. Monday, June 25 to learn who "meets the profile" and grant interviews, which will be conducted at 11 a.m. July 12 and July 17, the time yet to be determined.
"What sticks out is the collaboration between the school and community," Boettcher told the board Monday. "And there's nothing a superintendent needs to come in and fix. It's a happy atmosphere."
He noted the district is facing finance issues that all districts face.
From conversations with staff and community members, Boettcher developed a profile of leadership as a means to guide the search for a new superintendent.
"The strengths of Park Rapids Area Schools are built on the components of strong community engagement, caring staff and comprehensive Pre-K to grade 12 curriculum offerings," he wrote in a summary.
He cited the most significant challenge to be "maintaining the trust between the community and district. For the past several years, the school board and administration have worked diligently to establish a trusting relationship between the district and community. It is critical that this trust and collaborative working relationship is maintained."
Continuing a level of trust among staff and administration that currently exists is another challenge, as is the financial health of the district, Boettcher stated.
The leadership skills and personal attributes needed for the "challenges," as identified during surveys and interviews, are communication - both internally and externally. A background in education, including a strong understanding of quality teaching, was cited, as well as a person who's demonstrated ethical behavior and a high level of integrity.
The new superintendent's decisions should be student-focused, he said of surveys. Visibility, problem-solving skills, accountability, the ability to align the district as a system, being personable and approachable and leading by example are traits sought. The candidate should also be able to articulate a vision for Park Rapids Schools and what they may "look like" in the future.
"The next superintendent of Park Rapids Area Schools will face significant challenges," Boettcher said in summation. "However, he/she will not have to face these challenges alone. The person will have as their partner an educationally focused school board, quality staff, engaged parents and a community that is focused on student learning.
"Consequently, the next superintendent will have the opportunity to provide leadership in a district with a solid foundation of a commitment to excellence," he stated.
"The next superintendent will not need to come and 'fix' anything. There is nothing in the system that is broken. In that kind of environment it will allow the new superintendent to work on moving the district. They will not need to gather support as that is already there.
"However, it will be his/her major task to maintain, and in some cases strengthen, that support," Boettcher concluded.
In other action, The board:
n Approved hiring Shawn Andress as Century School assistant principal.
Andress, who teaches 7th and 8th grade social studies, has been with the district 20 years.
"I look forward to the challenge of leadership opportunities ahead," she told the board upon approval.
Board member Stephanie Carlson said her son was upset with the idea Andress would be leaving the classroom.
"Don't vote for this, Mom," Carlson said he told her prior the meeting.
n Learned the unreserved general fund balance had a "significantly better than expected" positive net change of $158,280 in 2011-12.
Business manager Carol Hutchinson attributed this to the "extremely mild winter," including minimal need for snow removal.
"It's significantly improved," Hutchinson said of the fund balance.
The board approved a transfer of $210,838 from the assigned fund balance to the general fund in 2012-13.
Hutchinson said she expects a significant improvement in the Community Service fund deficit next year. The factor is the decision not to replace the Early Childhood coordinator Sherri Wagner, who's retiring, she said.
n Learned the high school offered 11 College in the High School classes through three colleges for a total of 33 semester credits.
Forty-three seniors took at least one class and 28 juniors took at least one, for a total of 71 students taking one or more CIHS classes this year, counselor Susan Rassier reported.
The 71 students completed a total of 785 college semester credits, she reported, adding an exclamation point.
"In order to put this in perspective, each college charges a different tuition rate for enrolled students; PRAHS does not pay the tuition rate, but if a student was to attend any of these college after graduation, this will show how much they would have to pay per credit:"
The University of Minnesota Crookston charges $372.85 per credit, 541 credits were earned, totaling $201,712; Bemidji State University, $241.40 per credit, 100 earned, totaling $24,140; and Northland Community and Technical College, $158.66 per credit, 144 earned, $22,847.
A total of 785 credits were earned with $248,699 dollars saved, Rassier stated. The cost to the Park Rapids district was $24,165.
"This doesn't happen without a referendum," Chiodo said of the operating levy.
CIHS offers substantial savings for students and families, he noted.
A single student elected to attend BSU under the post-secondary education option.