Search underway after superintendent submits resignation

After three years with the school district, Hettinger Public School Superintendent Larry Sebastion submitted his resignation at the February school board meeting.

Larry Sebastian submitted his resignation in February after three years with the school district. The school board immediately posted the open position and has already garnered interest.
(Record File Photo)

By COLE BENZ | Record Editor

After three years with the school district, Hettinger Public School Superintendent Larry Sebastion submitted his resignation at the February school board meeting.

Though Business Manager Heather Ebert said that Sebastian didn’t give the board a specific reason for the resignation, just writing that it would be effective June, 30, he told the Record that he just felt it was the right time to move on. Sebastian said he will look for a job in education or something in business.

Ebert said for some people the resignation was a surprise, others weren’t as shocked by the announcement. The school immediately posted job openings for both a superintendent and an elementary school principal. After the interest for the elementary principal position was low the last time they posted the opening, Sebastian took over most of the duties with current Secondary Principal Ryan Moser assisting.

After advertising for about a month, Ebert said they have five or six applicants for each position, including Moser, who has applied for the superintendent job.

Two board members volunteered to go through the applicants. And after they contact references and determine some of the top candidates, a committee comprised of teachers, board members, and some other school personnel will conduct the interviews. The school board will ultimately make the final decision.

But there seems to be a broader issue at hand, which is the seemingly revolving door to the administration office at Hettinger Public Schools. And it isn’t just one of the three positions that has been difficult to fill with a consistent candidate, according to Ebert, who has been with the school system for the past four years.

“It’s actually been all three of the positions since I’ve been around,” she said.

The issue has been so obvious, that a commencement speech from one of the graduates last year charged the current student body to not “scare this one away, he’s a keeper,” referring to Moser.

It’s an odd juxtaposition, between the teaching staff and administration, because the school system hasn’t seen much teacher turnover over the past few school years.

“Yeah, we’re pretty table with our teachers,” Ebert said.

Ebert said that some of it could be chalked up to random coincidences, like retirements, and pursing career advancement opportunities. But she also said that she’s seen this trend outside the district by talking to colleagues from other districts at conferences and trainings.

“It seems like a lot of administrators are looking for another place for some reason, and I guess I don’t understand why,” she said.

Sebastian said he thought the school has made a lot of progress in the short time he’s been with the district. citing the roof and the heating and cooling system.

“We’ve worked hard to get the building cleaned up, and we’ve worked hard to bring the building up to speed with the steam piping and lights and the roof,” he said. “So we have made a lot of progress over the years.”

Ebert thought the board would hire someone in the next month, because right now candidates are actively looking for administrative jobs for the 2017-2018 school years.