Crosslake Community School's director resigns; director of online learning no longer employed there

Cliff Skagen was director since January 2020; Stacy Bender was director of online learning since August 2014. Board members were unable to be reached for comment.

Crosslake Community School

Crosslake Community School’s executive director resigned Friday, March 12, and the school’s director of online learning also is no longer with the charter school.

Cliff Skagen, executive director since January 2020, said Tuesday, March 16, in an emailed statement: “After lengthy consideration, I decided to resign from Crosslake Community School on March 12 to pursue other professional opportunities. I am proud of my accomplishments at CCS, which include increasing enrollment by 34 percent and bringing in approximately $1 million in new revenue. My family and I have come to love the Brainerd lakes area and I look forward to continuing being an active participant in the community.”

Stacy Bender, the school’s director of online learning since August 2014, said in a messaged statement: “I love Crosslake Community School and specifically its online program that I worked very hard to create along with co-workers who still serve students. With the addition of the kindergarten-fourth grade students in second semester, it is now arguably the best independent charter online school serving all grades in the state of Minnesota.”

No more information was available Tuesday on the departures. Attempts to reach school board members, including Board Chair Cinda Jensen, were unsuccessful.

The school board met in a special session Friday, March 12, to consider action with respect to employment of employees, according to the agenda on the school’s website.


The board will meet in another special session at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 18, to plan for a future interim Crosslake Community School leadership plan, according to the agenda on the school’s website.

Skagen succeeded Todd Lyscio, who retired at the end of 2019 after serving for six years as the school’s director from 2013-2019.

Skagen previously was head principal and director of curriculum and instruction at Twin Cities Academy Charter School in St. Paul before joining Crosslake Community School. The other two finalists for the director position at that time were Jill Arendt, director of student life at Crosslake School, and Annette Klang, a grades 1-2 teacher at Crosslake School.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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