School Board to allow for 'Plan B' if they can't find a high school counselor

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    Crookston School District will continue to advertise for a full-time licensed school counselor for the high school while also coming up with “Plan B” after the matter was discussed during a special School Board meeting Monday. Superintendent Jeremy Olson as well as Crookston High School Principal Eric Bubna and Assistant Principal Matt Torgerson noted it’s been a struggle to find licensed candidates for the position after Leah Zimmerman’s departure.

    One candidate was on the school board’s special meeting agenda to approve employment, but had declined the position prior to the meeting. Bubna told the board the candidate found something closer to home.

    What could a Plan B look like if the district doesn’t find a licensed school counselor right away? Olson and Bubna said a request could be sent to Northwestern Mental Health Center for additional help plus another administrative assistant could help fill the gaps of the extra duties taken on by the principal and assistant principal.

    “If we can’t get a licensed school counselor we need to do what we can to make sure student’s needs are covered,” said Olson. “Number one is the social emotional piece, the reactive piece for kids that come to the office that need help and also going to classrooms to talk about kindness.”

    “The other side is talking about college, scheduling, transcripts,” he added. “And this isn’t just unique to Crookston. I’ve talked to other districts and they’ve had to focus on calling it a different position.”

    Olson also said if the right fit comes with a license that’s what the district wants, but hoped the board would be open to someone if they can’t secure a licensed counselor.

    Another suggestion by Olson and Bubna as well as School Board member Tim Dufault would be to reach out to current teachers who might looking for a special assignment or change of career/lane change.

    “I’m more of a Plan A person and we’re in this bind, but I think we should keep going with advertising and hire a counselor for this school,” suggested board chair Frank Fee.

    “We have to have a counselor at the high school,” he added. “They have to advise the kids if they want to go to college, where to go to college, how to go to college… In my experience, if we say we are open to Plan B then we’re going with Plan B. I want to keep advertising.”

    Bubna explained through the applications they have received, one “wasn’t the right fit”, one backed out and the other they were going to hire but that person also backed out.

    “If you’re okay with a Plan B we’re not coming up with that tomorrow and it’s not as good as Plan A, but it’s our job as administrators to be ready to roll,” said Bubna.

    He added that they’ve been advertising since February and they’ve split duties between the principals and administrative staff.

    “We do want that consistent person there,” added Olson. “Kids don’t just have a problem on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

    Fee asked that administrators continue to advertise the position and after a deadline that they set passes they can go with a Plan B if necessary.

    “We appreciate you coming up with a Plan B if Plan A doesn’t come through,” added Dufault.