Last month, the R-P School Board briefly discussed the process and timeline for the hiring of a new superintendent. Chuck Ehler, who has served as superintendent since July 2007, will not seek a new contract to renew his contract for the 2019-2020 school year.
At the Monday, October 15 meeting, Ehler brought forth consideration of added services from the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA), as well as options from two individuals, for professional assistance during the hiring process. MSBA offered an array of services that included an in-district workshop ($975), the workshop and an initial planning meeting ($1,325), an added limited superintendent search ($4,250), and a full superintendent search including all other options and four additional items. The price for a full search was deemed, “to be determined.”
Ehler indicated the two individuals offering services both have experience with the process as a retired and current school administrators. Their quotes for services were $4,500. Ehler also indicated he’d reached out to other districts regarding the use of professional services for hiring and found the districts, which had expended $7,500-10,000, were not supportive of hiring a firm. Rather, he suggested the following of previously used basic hiring guidelines would avoid any issues.
Board Director Bonnie Prinsen, who was one of several who mentioned conferring with MSBA for process guidelines, clarified that she wasn’t looking to spend money on a hire, but rather sought general guidelines or recommended procedures. “It’s been a number of years since the last hire,” she noted. “I was wondering if there’s a standard somewhere that we can access without having to pay money. These are really interesting services, but I wouldn’t be in favor of that.”
“We pay association dues; you would think they have something,” added Board Chairman John Linder.
Prinsen agreed noting, “In all the emails, they say, ‘Remember to ask us if there’s anything you need; we have all these resources.’ I wonder if a board member should contact them about services.”
“I’m in favor of them [MSBA] coming down, if they include the service in our dues,” added Board Director Jon Pettit. “It’s ridiculous that we’d have to pay to have a representative come down. Other unions and organizations send representatives continuously as a service and as a part of dues. Otherwise, I think people can do their own research without MSBA.” The board made no motions regarding MSBA services.
Prinsen has offered to contact MSBA regarding guidelines and standard procedures. In order to finalize the process and stay on the timeline, the district will make a decision on procedure by the regular November meeting at the latest. A special meeting, slated for Tuesday, November 13, at 5:30 p.m, will be held to canvas election results, but it’s possible the board may decide the hiring process at that time.
The process timeline includes the mailing of flyers and posting of the position November 26, with applications due January 11. Review of applicants would begin mid-January, narrowing applicants to three to five candidates. Interviews would follow the first week of February with the committee expected to have finalized their choice by the end of the month.
In other news, the board approved notice of general election for the upcoming school board election November 6. Board Director Joyce Iverson has filed for renewal of a four-year term. The only other candidate to file for the position is Peterson’s Christopher Grindland.
The board also approved notice of the special election for the operating referendum. With the district seeking a new operating referendum a year early, should the vote fail, the district has the authority to seek a special election for the operating referendum next year.
With regards to maintenance contracts, the board considered two quotes for the removal of snow for district grounds. Last year’s costs, which included the rental of a skid steer from Hammel Equipment and the hiring of Trevor Kjos as operator, was $6,129. Hammel again offered the skid steer lease at $5,000. The other quote came from Atkinson Construction of Peterson.
Based on previous numbers, Ehler estimated costs to be $450 per snowfall, averaging to $9,000 per year. The board approved the quote from Hammel unanimously.
The board also approved Ehler’s seeking of a replacement truck for the district. The current truck, a 2000 Ford Ranger, has reached a point where repairs are not advantageous. The truck is currently used for assistance with snow removal, being outfitted with a blade and sanding unit.
The district received a $300 offer for the current truck. Used replacement vehicles, that will work with the equipment, are estimated at $9,000-15,000. The newest vehicle found is a 2011 unit. The board unanimously approved allowing the superintendent to move forward with a purchase, not to exceed $15,000 before tax, title, and license.
During the superintendent’s report, Ehler noted the sale of the former middle school building is hoped to be completed within the next two weeks. The board met in closed session, following the regular meeting, to discuss it further.
The Redevelopment Committee met October 5 to discuss the future for the redevelopment of the former elementary and high school facilities. “We are waiting for the developer to secure his financial avenues for the possible redevelopment of the building and site. The City of Rushford has moved forward with the development of a Plan B. I appreciate their efforts to present some options as we await the developer’s efforts to secure funding,” said Ehler in the report.
Athletic Director Dan Bieberdorf, during his report, noted the possibility of a team cooperative between R-P and Lewiston-Altura for the golf teams. In 2018, L-A had nine participants on the boys team and two comprising the girls team. This year, they are expecting a drop of one to two for the boys and an increase of three to four for the girls. R-P had seven boys and two girls in 2018 and could see even less than L-A this year.
Should the schools form a team cooperative, they may be able to compete as a full boys team and full girls team, with the possibility of junior varsity team. The districts would share costs on transportation and fees and it would provide R-P indoor simulation practice access, while L-A would benefit from an available course. A cooperative may push the teams into AA competition play, but Bieberdorf noted that advantages in growing the program would far outweigh moving to a higher category. The board consented to having Bieberdorf look into it further.
The next regularly scheduled board meeting is Monday, November 19, at 5:30 p.m., in the forum room. The public is encouraged to attend.