Seven candidates will interview for Washington School principal positionThe Cloquet School District will interview seven candidates out of a field of 26 applicants to become Washington Elementary School’s new principal.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
The Cloquet School District will interview seven candidates out of a field of 26 applicants to become Washington Elementary School’s new principal.
Superintendent Ken Scarbrough listed the seven finalists at Monday night’s Cloquet School Board meeting, noting that initial interviews will take place Saturday, April 21. Those interviews will narrow the field to three, who will then be interviewed by the entire board.
The finalists are, in alphabetical order:
- BJ Berg, elementary principal, Carlton
- Gwen Carman, PK-12 principal, Cook County Schools, Minn.
- Lisa Edwards, elementary principal, Windom, Minn.
- Connie Hyde, secondary school principal, Cloquet
- Kraig Konietzko, elementary principal, Moose Lake
- Jenifer Larva, director of school improvement, Cloquet
- Linda Schmidt, elementary principal, Bagley, Minn.
The position will become vacant when current principal Randy Thudin retires at the end of this school year.
“We had a good field of applicants,” Scarbrough said. “We had a number of qualified candidates and we are ready to move to the next step.”
At Monday’s meeting, the board also voted to eliminate the positions of 14 non-tenured teachers at the end of this school year, though these teachers are welcome to apply for any vacant positions that may arise before the start of the coming school year.
“For instance, we will have fewer elementary positions open than the number of non-tenured elementary teachers,” Scarbrough said in an e-mail. “Districts may, with non-tenured teachers, decide to look at the applicant pool even if giving terminated teachers the opportunity to apply for positions that may be open after bumping occurs and full-time and part-time position needs are decided.”
Two tenured teachers were also placed on unrequested leaves of absence at Monday’s meeting, effective at the end of the school year.
The board also declined to advance a resolution put forward by administration to award a business services contract to Regional Resources in the amount of $90,500. The resolution died when no board member was willing to move for its adoption. The contract will now have to be renegotiated.
“I believe the failure to approve the contract is due to the [board’s] desire to lower the cost,” Scarbrough said.
Much of the remainder of the meeting was devoted to debate regarding several proposed policy changes.
First readings were held for three proposed policies:
- A policy which would allow long-term substitute teachers to take up to three days’ sick time without that time interrupting their service for purposes of pay calculation.
“If the teachers are sick, we don’t want them in school,” Scarbrough said. “This change would make sure substitutes aren’t penalized for that.”
- Board members declined to change the district’s existing policy regarding procedures when students are forced to choose between different activities or sports when both occur on the same day. Recently two members of the school’s Knowledge Bowl team were forced to choose between participating in that team’s state tournament event and participation with the school’s baseball team.
“We want to make sure students aren’t punished for making a choice,” board member Jim Crowley said. “We need to watch that carefully.”
- A policy which would formally define the term “fund balance” for public knowledge and edification. The policy was proposed by board member Duane Buytaert at the March 26 meeting.
“Right now we have a number of groups who feel they have a good understanding of our fund balances without a good definition of what they actually are,” he said.
Scarbrough agreed, stating the public would be better served by a good working definition.
The board also declined to change district policy regarding parental preferences for classroom and homeroom placement in grades K-6. Parents will still be allowed to make requests on behalf of their children, without the guarantee that their child will be placed in specific classes or homerooms.
The board also accepted a letter of retirement from Sara Liimatainen, who will retire as director of Cloquet Community Education effective June 30.