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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Crookston School Board accepts Donarski’s resignation, makes key hires

  • But more resignations keep coming in, and applicants are proving to be especially hard to come by
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  •     The Crookston School Board, at a special meeting Wednesday at the high school, accepted the resignation of Don Donarski, who was activities director for six years before being on track to phase into a full-time dean of students position at Crookston High School in the fall. 
        Donarski, a tenured teacher, had split his time between AD and dean duties during the 2013-14 school year. Greg Garmen, a longtime science/chemistry teacher, was hired as AD this past spring and the position in the fall will be increased to 2/3 time, with the rest spent performing instructional duties.   
        Donarski told the Times last week that he's accepted a position in another school district but he did not want to elaborate beyond that.   
        The school board, as Superintendent Chris Bates recommended, gave him the go-ahead to begin advertising immediately for a half-time dean at the high school instead of a full-time one. But the position will still be full-time, with the new person, when hired, spending the rest of his or her time in some sort of instructional capacity, depending on the area of teaching expertise. There are teaching positions available at the Red River Juvenile Detention Center and New Paths Area Learning Center, Bates said.   
        With Interim Highland School Principal Chris Trostad's industrial technology teaching position at CHS not being filled for the coming year, Bates said the district will get by with two fewer staff for the coming school year, but he said staff and budget efficiencies are actually improving. Strides were made during the past school year in those areas, he said, and more strides will be made in the 2014-15 school year. In 2015-16, he said, "I think things are going to really come together as far as everything fitting in a way that's best for students and staff."   
        But, still, it's a daily challenge to even find applicants. The Family and Consumer Sciences teaching vacancy created by Jean Tester's retirement has yet to attract a single applicant, Bates said. As for the special education director vacancy created by Kim Johnson's resignation earlier this summer, the lone applicant was interviewed and not hired, he said.   
        Crookston is not alone, Bates continued. The Thief River Falls School District has two Emotional Behavior Disabled (EBD) teacher openings and hasn't generated a single applicant after seven weeks of advertising the positions, he said.   
        The superintendent said he's spoken to the Minnesota Department of Education in search of some insight on the Crookston district's options if it can't fill vacant positions in the traditional fashion. "They don't really know, either," he said Wednesday. Hiring "community experts" is one option, as is hiring long-term substitute teachers, he explained. "While you're looking at these options, your constant hope is that a couple applications come in," he said.   
    Page 2 of 2 -     A couple applications did come in for the orchestra instructor vacancy created by Kyle Entzel's resignation, and on Wednesday the board made the hiring of Spencer Frie (pronounced "free") official. A member of several chamber orchestras in the state and region, this will be Frie's first teaching position in a school district.   
        The board also filled a "huge piece of the puzzle" on Wednesday when they hired Aham Ikeji as high school chemistry instructor. The only applicant for the position, he is expected to have his master's degree by the time he starts in the fall. Bates said Ikeji has taught in the state of Virginia and in South Dakota, and last year taught science in Virginia, Minn. "But he's a chemistry teacher and was looking for a position where he could focus on that," Bates said.   
        Also on Wednesday, the board accepted the resignation of New Paths ALC instructor Sarah Hillier.   
        And there's more to come. The board meets next on Monday, July 21 and on the agenda is the resignation of Highland third grade teacher Betsey McIntyre.

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