School Faces Critical Staffing Issues

With first day of school just around the corner, the Hettinger School Board has been meeting almost on a daily basis, scrambling to fill critical staffing positions.


Record Editor

On Wednesday, July 30th the board met to interview two potential candidates to fill the vacant superintendent position and on Monday, Aug. 4th to discuss the applicants after verifying credentialing and to discuss the need for a high school math teacher, a 5th and 6th grade social studies teacher and computer teacher, as well as several coaching positions . A third meeting was held on Tuesday, Aug 5th to further discuss the superintendent position and rearrange teachers schedules so the current math teacher isn’t overloaded.

At the July 30th board meeting, Craig Johnson, the former Strasburg, N.D. principal interviewed in person and Jeff Walker who is currently working in China interviewed for the superintendent position. Johnson is originally from Lemmon, S.D. and Walker has 17 years experience as a superintendent and he and his cat want to be closer to his family in Minnesota.

At the Aug. 4th meeting, it was discussed to make the superintendent position an interim position with the goal of having someone in place at the start of the school year. The benefit of that is that you truly get to know someone and how well they do their job before hiring them permanently. The down side is that some applicants may not want to move here and have to uproot themselves a year later. Larry Sebastian of New Leipzig and Lawrence Mattison were suggested as possible candidates as interim superintendent.

There have been no applicants for the math teacher position, as teachers are required to sign contracts before the previous school year ends. There are currently eight math classes to teach and only seven periods in the day, which makes it hard for the current math teacher to teach them all. It was discussed that the current math teacher would be paid, one sevenths more of his contract and not have noon duty, a preparation period or a study hall. The current math teacher, taught five classes last year and would have to teach eight this year. The board is looking into long term subs to fill the gaps. It was also discussed to have ITV classes in order to fill the gap. In the past, students have not liked ITV classes and prefer a real teacher.

The position for IT support for the entire school system and computer classes teacher must also be filled. High School Principal Greg Johnson said, “word processing is important to make students college ready.” The board decided to ask the former retired teacher, who filled this role and as the 5th and 6th grade social studies teacher, if she would reconsider and teach these classes.

The boards ideal candidate for superintendent would be one who could also fill one of these teaching positions.

It was also discussed that there are several coaching position that also need filled including a speech coach.