BEA elementary principal named
The Blue Earth Area School Board held a special meeting on Tuesday morning, June 4, to accept the resignation of Melissa McGuire, effective June 30, as the K-7 principal. In her resignation letter McGuire thanked BEA for the opportunities she received during her time in Blue Earth.
“I would like to thank Melissa for her service over the last 16 years,” Chairperson Susan Benz stated.
“And we wish her well,” board member Frankie Bly added.
Next, the board held a discussion on filling the position being vacated by McGuire.
It was the recommendation of the administration to hire current K-7 assistant principal, David Dressler, to fill the vacancy.
Following some discussion a motion was made and passed to hire Dressler as the K-7 principal at an annual salary of $98,000.
While this took care of one staff opening it also created another one and the board held a lengthy discussion on how to proceed.
More than one board member told the group there are some community members with concerns about filling the principal position given the financial situation the School District is currently in.
“I think it is vital the community know we are considering our financial position,” board member Stacey Beyer commented. “However, this is a very important position within our district.”
The board looked at other districts to see how they are staffed. Some are staffed very similar to BEA and others have a Dean of Students on staff.
“One disadvantage of a dean is they are much more limited in what they can do,” Dr. Jerry Jensen, interim superintendent explained.
A dean can do daily discipline but cannot suspend students. They also cannot do teacher evaluations, according to Jensen.
The assistant principal is the district assessment coordinator and is in charge of the MCAs, ACTs and NWEAs. In addition the assistant principal oversees the mentor/mentee program, according to Beyer.
“The responsibilities we put on these individuals, it is a demanding position and we have all of these needs and somebody has to be responsible for them – it doesn’t just get done,” Bly remarked.
The board also sought the opinion of incoming superintendent Mandy Fletcher, who was in attendance at the meeting.
“Initially when I first heard of the resignation from Melissa, my reaction was the district could save $100,000-$150.000,” Fletcher explained. “Then, you sit and process it, and with everything the board and the community want, you want a change agent coming in. I do not think there is any way we can make the difference you want to see without the assistant principal.”
Jensen agreed with Fletcher’s assessment.
“The community will also say we need to get our kids back and build our enrollment because we have lost enrollment,” Jensen remarked. “This is our opportunity, I think, to build our infrastructure so we can boost the programming and hopefully bring more kids back into the district.”
But the financial situation still weighed on the board members’ minds.
“The conflict is we need to make more cuts, the budget looks horrible and here is a perfect opportunity,” Benz stated. “But there is also the need to support the teachers and make the changes we need to make to build the district up. It is like the chicken and the egg, which comes first?”
Fletcher added some final thoughts on the matter.
“If you ask those in communities where districts are growing and have a solid student population, I guarantee what you would hear from that community is that they have strong leadership, you would hear they have great teachers,” Fletcher said. “But it is the educational leaders who are helping to make those great teachers. I think we have a lot of great teachers now, but I think what an education leader does is make the whole system strong.”
“The thing is when you overload a principal too much, they switch from becoming an educational leader to a manager of operations and they are just trying to maintain the day-to-day; they can’t forward think,” Fletcher continued. “I would hate to do that to the principal coming in right away when we want so much done.”
Following the discussion the board decided to move ahead with advertising for a new assistant principal. The application period for the position closes on June 14.