Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

Principal retires, board discusses need to fill position


The Barnum School Board approved the resignation, due to retirement, of High School Principal Steve Brandt, and reviewed the process for hiring another principal, at the meeting of the board on Tuesday, March 19.

However, several members of the board expressed strong feelings against board chair Pat Poirier’s question about the need for a high school principal. He said that budget concerns in a year’s time were his biggest worry.

“I wouldn’t sleep at night if we had to cut teachers when we could save $80,000 for a principal,” he said.

Board member Donnie Juntunen recalled that Barnum had a dean of students at one time.

Board member Colleen Fetters pointed out that a dean would have limited authority. She added that the principal observes the teachers in the classrooms for two or three hours a day, and that keeps teaching on track. The principal also is available to parents.

Board member Lenore Skoglund said that so much damage would be done in one year that it would take a long time to catch up.

“The principal takes care of discipline issues,” she added. “Who is going to take care of that? I’m really not in favor of not having a principal, that’s really short-sighted.”

Board Member Paul Coughlin suggested alternatives in administrative expenses as a better fix.

Board Member Mike Line supported Poirier’s suggestion.

The topic was to be discussed further in a working meeting following the board meeting.

The current timeline for hiring a principal is to advertise the position, with the closing date of April 15, narrow the field of applicants by April 19, interview the selected candidates from April 29 to May 3, and hire someone at the May 21 meeting of the board.

Superintendent Dave Bottem spoke about the uncertainty in health care coverage that is going through the legislature. However, he said that it was safe to say that the schools are going to get more money this year from the state. He listed several pieces of legislation, but it is not known at this time which will be successful.

In sequestration, he said that the Barnum School District will not be hit as hard as schools with a larger Native American population.

The school board may be forced to increase prices for lunches. He said that would make a hardship for families.

Kurt Langhorst spoke to the board again about serving chocolate milk. He presented information that 45 percent of the students do not drink white milk and that they are missing the valuable minerals of calcium and phosphorus.

It is the board’s policy not to respond during the public participation portion of the meeting, and no answer was given to Langhorst’s comments.

High School Principal Brandt reported that numerous problems with the Plato program has the administration considering other options. A presentation will be made about Odyssey Ware on March 22.

The next meeting of the board was set for Tuesday, April 16, at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.


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