Nevis Superintendent Steve Rassier resigns
By Nick Longworth
After nearly a decade of service to the Nevis School District, Superintendent Steve Rassier is ready to resign at the end of the school year, effective June 30, 2014.
On Wednesday, April 2, the Nevis School Board held a meeting in the media center that was open to the public. Although an open meeting, no public comment period was allowed, per the agenda set.
All members of the Nevis School Board were in attendance to unanimously accept Rassier’s resignation. The board then also listened to a presentation by former Park Rapids Superintendent Glenn Chiodo about consulting services he can offer in finding a new superintendent for the district.
“In June of 2012 I signed a two-year contract. At that point the intention was to retire on June 30, 2014 when that contract expired. Nothing has changed, and that’s the final day that I plan on working for the Nevis Public School District, effectively retiring on that date,” Rassier said, reading from an official statement he had previously prepared.
“A lot of very positive things have happened in the last nine years. The all-day, every day kindergarten that we added I think was a real plus. We also completed a major construction project. We have been named a reward school, which I think really evidences the academic excellence we have here at our school. We also have financial security; I think our funds balance exceeds the goals that we created five years ago. I think I am leaving you with a district that is very financially solid. There are a lot of good things that have happened here. I’m pleased that I could be a part of it the last nine years. At this point June 30, 2014 looks like a pretty big day in my life,” Rassier said.
Nevis Board Chair Ed Becker mimicked Rassier’s sentiment on the “bittersweet” departure.
“I would agree. I think we have accomplished a lot in the last nine years due to everybody’s involvement; the community, leadership, teachers and all the work that they do. This is somewhat bittersweet. I remember having the conversation when we set up the two-year contract two years ago. He said, ‘That will be it, I will be done.’ I kept thinking we could twist his arm for another year. But he said his wife is done working and he is ready to start that new chapter,” Becker said.
Rassier’s wife Susan is currently a counselor for the Park Rapids Century Middle School and is set to also retire at the end of the school year.
With the retirement now official, it leaves Nevis – at least at the moment – without a superintendent come the end of June.
Shifting attention then to the search process, Becker began discussion about the options available that the district has going forward. Admittedly, the current school board does not have a lot of experience searching for a new superintendent (having had Rassier the whole time some board members have held their seat).
“I contacted the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA) to discuss with them not only their services, but what part they can play in finding us a new superintendent. Their services can be in as much of the process, or as little of the process as we want. For $1,000 the MSBA can slowly start walking us through some of it, but that basically is to come here, tell us what we need to do and then they would step back and let us handle it. Essentially they would educate us in a seminar for a few hours and then we would be given the reigns and we would have to run with it,” Becker said.
“They did say that typically a board with not a lot of experience in a superintendent search probably would want to bring in some sort of consulting firm. Not many of us have been through the process of finding a new superintendent before. If we want to tackle it ourselves, it will be very time consuming,” Becker said.
The floor was then given to Glenn Chiodo to discuss services the consulting firm he works for - BKB Associates out of Mankato - can offer to help.
BKB Associates handled the Park Rapids superintendent search to replace Chiodo after he retired. Since then, they have brought him aboard to help with searches for northern Minnesota school districts.
“In the last two years, I have handled the Wadena superintendent search, Minnewaska, Clearbrook and Eveleth,” Chiodo said.
“We have a full package that includes meeting with staff, community members, board members and district office people individually. Some schools will also have me interview student groups. I will spend time with them developing a profile for what you, the school district, is looking for in your next superintendent. I will ask a series of fairly open-ended and non-threatening questions basically for me to develop a piece that I will ultimately come back and present to you,” Chiodo said.
“You have to find the right fit, and it’s not always necessarily tied to just credentials. The profile is an essential piece because it develops the ideals of what it is you are looking for, whatever that may be. This is a way to bring everyone together and get stakeholders involved in that process.
When you fill a superintendent decision it’s probably going to be one of the more important decisions you’re going to make. The more involvement you can have throughout the community and school district the better you will be.”
Every candidate is referenced checked by Chiodo and left nameless up until near decision time.
Chiodo does also offer a less hands-on approach through BKB associates that was also discussed. However, the board was in no position to make any official decisions at the meeting, tabling discussions until a further meeting.
Discussion on a retirement incentive program was on the meeting’s agenda, but was ultimately tabled until next meeting because the board was not yet prepared for discussion.