Superintendent resigns

Brian Christopherson officially resigned form the Hettinger School as superintendent and high school principal effective July 1.

By JAMIE SPAINHOWER

Record Editor

Posted June 29, 2012

“I just feel it is time to move on,” he told the board at its Wednesday night meeting. “I will start my new job in Medina July 9.”

Christopherson said he has enjoyed the eight years he has been in Hettinger but is seeking new challenges.

“I enjoyed being superintendent, but really missed the principal aspect a lot,” he said. “I hope to have the opportunity in Median to get to know all the kids by their first names again.”

Board member Anthony Larson thanked Christopherson for his leadership, and said the school has shown many improvements and accomplishments during Christopherson’s tenure there.

The process to replace Christopherson has begun, with four solid candidates, from Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, and two other people who have spoken to him.

Larson asked how these applications were received, and Christopherson replied the advertising had been done through a firm specific to school administrators.

Christopherson, board president Laura Slater, Business manager Loren Luckow and board member Mike Johnson will be going through the candidates, doing the initial reviews, checking backgrounds and references as the search committee, and then bring their reports to the board, which will appoint a hiring committee.

“It won’t be hard to find a replacement,” said Christopherson. “At this point in the year, someone applying for a job in Hettinger is going to want to come to Hettinger.”

He said he would not have resigned at this point if he felt he would be leaving the school in a bad spot.

A special meeting will be called in the next week or so, to discuss the position and also for public hearing on the 2012 Long Term Plan, that will be made public after the board reviews the current draft. A new superintendent is expected to begin working the beginning of July.

Also offered a job with the district, effective later in the summer, was Heather Ebert, who will replace the retiring Loren Luckow as the school business manager.

 

 

A new pre-school director and teacher were also hired. Jodi Larson, who has been the pre-school director since the program began in Hettinger 10 years ago, resigned at the end of the school year.

“After interviewing three very qualified people, we decided to hire Sara Skogen as the director and afternoon teacher,” said Elementary Principal Lyn Hendry. “We felt after much discussion that she was the best fit for our pre-school at this time. “

Also hired was Sara Whipple, who will be the morning pre-school teacher.

“We have 12 morning and 22 afternoon students signed up for sure at this time,” said Hendry. “Bit I know of several who did not get registers, so the afternoon sessions will be full by the time we start in August.”

There are also 13 new students signed up for the elementary school, but Hendry said it looks like they will also be losing 10.

“In grades K through 6 at this point we have 138 students,” she said. That number will probably go up or down by a few students before school begins in August, but it should be pretty close.

Larson asked if the school has the capacity for a large increase in students should the oil move into the area.

“We do have the physical capacity for more students,” said Christopherson.

Part of the long term planning is trying to predict the number of teachers and staff currently working, and whether to hire more staff or not.

“I feel we are at a bare bones staff right now,” said Christopherson.

Christopherson said while working on the draft plan, one of the goals is anticipating the possibility of demographic changes.

“If the oil boom hits we have the physical room for more students, based on looking at the past highest enrollment numbers,” he said.

A shortage of teachers is affecting many areas of the state, especially further north where there is a lot of oil activity.

 

Overall, the school is sitting in pretty good shape, with good reserves, and the ability to move forward with other capital improvement plans for the structure now that Measure 2 is no longer a concern as far as school funding.

Posted June 29, 2012

“We have gotten done what had to be done this year,” said Christopherson. “But this is ongoing, and we can’t sit back for a couple of years and then start from scratch. Things break down, and we need to be proactive.”

Improvements have discussed and prioritized over the past several months, and made based on need and available funds. The board was reluctant to dive in and take on some projects until the how funding for the school would be affected should Measure 2 pass in the primary election. Not only did the Measure fail, but Adams County led the way with the highest percentage of “no” votes in the state.

Improvements recently completed include the new swimming pool locker rooms, which are not only functional but bring an overall sense of completeness to the entire pool area.

A new pump assembly had to be ordered for the elementary heating – Christopherson said the steam element is the original pump for heating and parts to fix it are unable to be found anymore.

Replacing the crow’s nest at the football field was on the “to do” list, while other projects, such as a new keyless entry system were put on hold.

The next regular board meeting will be held July 18 at 7 p.m., but a special meeting should be held soon to discuss the hiring of the new superintendent.