Several retirements and resignations have Olson pitching modified plans for 2019-20 to the school board Monday
As the 2018-19 school year in Crookston Public Schools nears the home stretch and plans start to be finalized for the 2019-20 school year, there’s a significant amount of staff movement to address and plenty of staffing plans to be discussed and important decisions to be made.
Consider the school board’s meeting agenda for April 22, which includes resignations from fourth grade teacher Andrew Biermaier and CHS English teacher Kristen Alston. Also resigning are Highland School administrative assistant Michelle Hulst, CHS administrative assistant Chelsie Johnson, and paraprofessionals Karen Hanson and Jackie Lindsay, both of whom are retiring. Head boys’ soccer coach Don Cox is making his retirement official, and the agenda includes a resolution terminating/non-renewing the contract of first grade probationary teacher Kayla Smith for reasons that are not budget-related.
Biermaier tells the Times that he’s going to Missouri with his fiancee Kennedy Resendiz, who will be attending veterinary school. Biermaier says he recently secured his Missouri teaching license and will be looking for employment there.
“I just want to say that I have had an amazing experience here in the Crookston School District and all that I have learned is going to help me on this journey,” Biermaier said.
As for Alston, who’s been at the high school for several years, her husband has secured a law enforcement job elsewhere.
Although the school board earlier this spring approved a budget reduction package for the 2019-20 school year totaling a bit more than $400,000, a pending retirement that will be discussed at Monday’s board meeting has other staff-related issues in play. Chief among them is the addition of a two-thirds time dean of students position at CHS being proposed by Superintendent Jeremy Olson that would be filled by band instructor Matt Torgerson, who would spend the remaining one-third of his full-time teaching band. Josh Hardy most recently served as dean of students at CHS while also teaching physical education and health, but the high school has been without a dean this school year.
Asked Monday by the Times how all of this might shake out, Olson said the idea would be to hire a full-time music instructor to get to the 3.33 full-time equivalent music staff that Olson said was doable as part of the budget reduction package. If the board approves Olson’s proposal, the superintendent said it would return the music teaching staff to largely what it was before the reduction package was approved, with elementary choral instructor Jill Dalzell remaining in the elementary schools instead of moving to CHS to fill the shoes of the retiring Belinda Fjeld. Torgerson would continue with junior high and high school band instruction, Olson explained, but his duties in giving lessons would be shared by orchestra instructor Haley Ellis.
There are only two types of music teaching licenses, vocal or instrumental. Olson stressed that how exactly the music staff configuration and duties fall into place depends on the license held by the chosen applicant. A dual licensure would be ideal, he added.
“Under this plan, we could kind of go back to the way things were (prior to the budget reduction package and music staff reconfiguration),” Olson said.
Asked by the Times if it’s been determined that the high school needs a dean of students, Olson said he’s “known for a while” that a dean of students is needed at CHS. Having a “good fit” is especially critical in the position that has a lot of contact with students, and Olson said Torgerson is the ideal candidate for the position. No special licensure or certification is needed to be a dean of students, he noted, only a teaching license. Torgerson is close to securing his superintendent license, Olson added. “I’ve been very impressed with his thinking and how he works through problems,” the superintendent noted.
“There are a lot of wheels in motion and this is all very tentative (and is contingent on the retirement submission the board will receive Monday),” Olson stressed, adding that “things have happened very quickly” over the past few days, making some staff changes possible heading into 2019-20 that also save the district money.