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Nevis School to have dean of students

Outgoing Nevis superintendent Steve Rassier accepts a plaque from board chair Ed Becker, at right. (Nick Longworth / Enterprise)

By Nick Longworth

The Nevis School Board convened Monday night for what would be Steve Rassier’s final meeting with the district as superintendent.

With all board members and newly hired superintendent Gregg Parks also in attendance, board chairman Ed Becker began the meeting by presenting Rassier with a ceremonious bell, commemorating their gratitude for the service he has provided.

“This is in recognition of nine years of dedicated service. On behalf of the board, I would like to present to you this bell in reminder of your great service,” Becker said.

Before the meeting began, there was a reception for retiring staff members Dave Cash (head custodian) Kathy Thompson (elementary teacher), Deb Plummy (educational assistant) and, of course, Rassier himself.

But after the brief words, it was business as usual for Rassier and the rest of the board.

One of the more pertinent subjects that arose was the creation of a dean of students position.

Principal John Strom proposed an idea for the board’s approval in which a dean of students will deal with day-to-day high school discipline (including detention), as well as day-to-day attendance in both the high school and elementary.

According to a job description provided by Strom at the meeting, the dean will have a personal connection with all high school students, have knowledge of Nevis school rules and the ability to enforce them, and understanding of the social difficulties of today’s society and how those difficulties impact the day-to-day operation of the school.

“One of the most important things is that the dean has to have a very strong sense of what students from 6-12th grade are like in 2014. Students are not the same as they were in 1974 when I started teaching and they’re certainly not the same now as 1967 when I was in 9th grade. It’s a completely different world, and I would hope that the dean has a very strong sense of what we’re dealing with,” Strom said in his open remarks to the school board.

The position will be half-time and largely focus on grades 6-12. Strom would be the immediate supervisor to the position.

Day-to-day discipline and attendance will be the primary focus.

“When we were at 550 students, I was pretty much keeping up with everything within the building. As we moved up in the 570s – and combined it with unusual situations that arose this winter – the one thing I simply did not keep up with was attendance. There are two parts to that: I could tell you which kids aren’t showing up, but the follow-up to that completely fell off,” Strom said.

Once the position is filled, Strom would then focus more on areas of overall leadership and management, including transferring day-to-day responsibilities of running the early childhood program from Gregg Parks to himself, detailed teacher observations, and cyber bullying management inside and outside of the school.

A teaching degree would be preferred for the position, but not necessarily a requirement. It will be advertised outside of the school, although Strom feels that there likely may be a candidate already in-house, saying, “I think the chances are certainly reasonably good that it could be an internal candidate.”

A specific job description for the position is yet to be developed.

“I feel this is an important position. I don’t feel that it’s fair to the staff if we hire someone from within and it takes away from other people’s jobs,” said school board member Jeanette Dudley.

“This person will also need to be consistent with their discipline concerning every student. They can’t play favorites because that will be defeating the purpose. I feel if this is the direction that we need to go, then we need to make sure the board is involved and hears about it. We want this to be a happy environment for students and parents,” Dudley added.

After lengthy discussions, a motion was made by school board member Justin Isaacson to move forward with the creation of a job description and the hiring of a dean of students. The motion was seconded by Ed Becker and unanimously approved by the board.

In other news, the board:

n Approved overnight field trips for both state golf and state track.

n Accepted the resignation of Community Education Coordinator Ronda DeWulf and cross country co-coaches Amy and Paul Schroeder. It is widely believed there will not be enough students to participate to make a team happen.

n Approved the Student Accident Insurance Plan.

n Approved a roof repair proposal that will cost $55,700. The 15,000 square feet of roofing on the west end of the high school was originally installed in 1986 and is in need of replacing. Herzog Roofing from Detroit Lakes will replace the section in question.

Nick Longworth
A graduate from St. Cloud State University, Nick photographs and writes a variety of stories for nearly every section of The Park Rapids Enterprise. His duties also include section layouts and online content submission.
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