Independent School District (ISD) 318 once again begins the search for an interim superintendent following an announcement from current Superintendent Joni Olson, who announced her retirement last week, scheduled for June 30. Olson has served in her current capacity for nearly two years, having been selected to fill the position left vacant by the retirement of previous Superintendent Bruce Thomas. 

“I would like to thank Joni for her time the last few years leading the district,” board member Tom Peltier said during a special meeting of the school board on Monday. “I wish you well in your retirement and in any of your future endeavors.”

Other fellow board members expressed similar notes of gratitude, with Molly Miskovich also citing a special thanks to Olson for helping in the successful passage of the school referendum.

“Thank you for passing our successful school referendum, and for your dedication to our staff and students,” Miskovich said.

During the meeting, the board also discussed the process for finding an interim superintendent.

“We’re limited in our time here,” said Peltier, who asked Olson if she would be willing to remain in her position a bit longer if the district has difficulty in securing an interim superintendent before her scheduled retirement on the 30th. 

“Of course,” said Olson. “It is my goal to ensure a successful transition, and I will be willing to work with the district for any additional time that it may take to ensure that the transition is a successful one.”

Moving forward, the board expressed the need to obtain a list from the Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA) of area retired superintendents and other qualified individuals who may be willing to serve as interim superintendent, as well as a list of individuals in the district who have the necessary qualifications to serve in this capacity.

The board plans to host a workshop later this week to further discuss the matter. After an interim superintendent is appointed, the board will begin work on the plan for the hiring of a permanent superintendent.

Also on Monday, the board held a regular meeting.

During the regular meeting, the board:

• Approved the minutes of the June 3 school board meeting.

• Approved May 2019 claims.

• Approved the following staff changes: Andrew Almendinger, special education teacher replacement hire; Jody Briske, Education Support Professional (ESP) resignation; Brenda DeMars, secretary resignation; Nikki Gebhart, secretary replacement hire; Michelle Henrickson, early childhood special education teacher replacement hire; Louis Hoopman, custodian replacement hire; Kelsey Johnston, physical education teacher replacement hire; Amy Luke, special education coordinator teacher transfer hire; Sarah Marshall, ESP nurse resignation; James Melton, custodian replacement hire; Emily Miller, Title I teacher replacement transfer hire; Angie Miskovich, special education teacher replacement hire; Kindee Porter, special education teacher replacement hire; and Donald Wollin, bus driver retirement.

• Approved the 2019/20 Career Pathways Coordinator services contract. This position serves various Itasca Area Schools Collaborative (IASC) districts and is funded in that manner. The only changes to this contract is a 2% salary increase for 2019-2020 and 2020-21, and a change to her title from STEM Coordinator to Career Pathways Coordinator.

• Approved the revised 2018/19 budget and adopted the 2019/20 budget. 

• Approved the 10-year Long Term Facility Maintenance Plan. 

• Adopted a resolution for board control of student activity funds as required by the State of Minnesota. All money received and expended will be recorded in the same manner as other revenues and expenditures of the district.

• Approved an award of contract for miscellaneous projects at Grand Rapids High School (GRHS). On May 24, three contractors were invited to bid three separate projects at GRHS. The three projects are: New walk-in cooler and freezer in the kitchen, varsity locker room renovation and safe egress at the Reif Center. Only one contractor bid the projects and two of the three projects were accepted. The two projects are: The walk-in cooler and freezer and safe egress at the Reif Center. The sum of two projects is $187,200. The low bid of $187,200 was submitted by Hawk Construction. 

• Approved an award of contract for a Robert J. Elkington Middle School (RJEMS) shop ventilation project. On May 9, three contractors were invited to bid on the project, and only one contractor bid. The low bid of $82,000 was submitted by Hawk Construction. Funding for this project will mainly be coming from IRRRB and STEM Grants with donations from RJEMS Capital and General Capital.

• Accepted the second reading and approved policy 202 School Board Officers and accepted the second reading and approved policy 616 School District System Accountability.

• Approved the 2019/20 Minnesota Rural Education Association (MREA) membership. The MREA dues total $2,500, which is the same as last year.

The next school board open forum will be July 8 at 6:30 p.m. in Admin. Board Room 4. The next regular meeting will follow at 7 p.m. Following that meeting, the next open forum will take place on July 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the Admin. Board Room and via telepresence at the Bigfork School. The regular meeting will follow at 7 p.m.

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