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Park Rapids Century School looks for K-8 principal; hiring by April 1

Park Rapids Area High School received nearly $18,000 as a water heater rebate from Minnesota Energy Resources. Ann Carlon, right, presented the "check" to superintendent Glenn Chiodo and board chair Sherry Safratowich at this week's meeting. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

The Century School principal's position has been posted, superintendent Glenn Chiodo told the board Monday, with the phone ringing shortly thereafter.

The district will seek applications for the position vacated by Bruce Gravalin through March 1.

Plans call for narrowing the field to six to eight candidates for interviews.

A full-time principal's assistant or teacher on special assignment will augment the position, Chiodo told the board.

Chiodo has been meeting with certified and non-certified staff this week to develop a profile.

"I'm seeing a commonality coming from the elementary and middle school," Chiodo said.

"There has not been one glowing skill," that's surfaced in conversations, he said after the meeting, but a "repeated call for a strong decision maker, someone willing to make difficult decisions and stick by them."

Unifying the building, to make Century one complete school is a priority.

Chiodo, who said he enjoys the hiring process, is looking for someone with a strong curriculum background, who will develop a clearly defined "scope and sequence" from elementary to middle school.

Strong communication skills are a must, to accomplish a sense of unification and harmony at Century.

"We want a consistent, clear vision for short and long term goals," he said. "And work together to accomplish them. We will hold people accountable."

A K-8 principal is not common in a district of this size, he noted. The age range of students poses diverse challenges.

"Optimistically, I hope to be able to offer the job to someone by April 1," he said.

In other action, the school board:

n Learned fourth grade teacher Barb Babine will retire after 18 years with the district.

n Reviewed evaluations of superintendent Chiodo, as completed by an administrative team and the board.

"The comments were very positive regarding his ability to communicate with all groups he comes in contact with," board chair Sherry Safratowich reported of the team's findings. His leadership skills and the trust to allow the team to lead and not micromanage were cited as attributes.

"The board had similar findings," Safratowich said. "Mr. Chiodo has excellent communication skills and an understanding of school finance. He is a strong leader with the ability to lead in all settings. He holds the staff accountable, while remaining respectful. His broad background in education definitely has been an asset to District 309.

"With the current situation in our school district," Chiodo was also commended for his "ability to take on an additional variety of tasks and continue to perform at the highest level."

n Reported a board self-evaluation found the members to be a "very diverse but yet cohesive group... We have had some great opportunities in this district and this board has shown the leadership to make opportunities happen for District 309," Safratowich said.

n Approved a $113,000 bid from Donlar Construction for door hardware and re-keying the interior of the high school for handicap accessibility. Exterior doors have been re-keyed.

n Accepted a $17,972 water heater rebate check for the high school from Minnesota Energy Resources.