The Wrenshall School Board has approved a plan to restructure the district’s administration in a way that could save the district money over the next two years.
In the new framework, Superintendent Kim Belcastro would work three days a week and assume a purely administrative role. Belcastro has served as a superintendent and principal since she was hired in 2012. Wrenshall combined the superintendent and principal positions as a cost-saving measure, but the district needs a full-time principal in place.
“I think it’s the right choice right now,” Belcastro said during a special meeting Wednesday, April 14. “We’re getting going on our second phase of construction and the teachers will attest it’s tough for me to do the principal work effectively and also to get all of the evaluations done.”
Board Chair Michelle Blanchard asked if Belcastro would have a regular schedule. Belcastro said her plan is to be on campus three days a week, and she would send an email informing the board and staff what days she would be in the building.
“If it was a typical week maybe I would work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, though how many typical weeks do we have,” Belcastro said to the board. “There’s always so much going on and so, if you’re ok with it, I would have that flexibility to move it around as needed.”
Wrenshall’s current administration has Belcastro serving as the full time principal and superintendent with a .8 dean of students position. Including benefits, the district spends approximately $203,052 on the two positions.
In the new structure, the dean of students position would be eliminated in favor of the principal position. Belcastro’s salary would drop from $117,262 per year to $71,764 and the district projects paying the principal $80,000 in 2022. Including benefits, the district would spend $194,665 in 2021-22 and $197,764 in 2022-23 — the final year of Belcastro’s current contract.
Belcastro and Wrenshall business manager Angela Anderson arrived at the projected principal salary by looking at the salaries of other similarly sized districts and arrived at a number that was competitive.
“We looked at it as a starting point,” Belcastro said. “Different people come in with different needs. Some are going to need insurance and some aren’t and that plays a huge role in what we can pay them.”
The district posted the principal position in early April and has already received six applications, according to Belcastro. The position will remain open for applications until the end of April and interviews will be conducted later in May.
Belcastro’s current contract ends in 2023, at which time the district can reevaluate its needs. She said she didn’t foresee a need to change the current structure unless the district saw some major growth over the next two years.
“My example is always if we get over 400 students, then I think it would be time for us to start looking at if we need two full time administrators,” Belcastro said. “There’s always different ways to slice and dice things or put things together, but we always have to be conscientious of the budget and making sure that we get everything needed in the district with our teachers and so forth.”