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Pequot Lakes School District: Community asked to participate in survey for new superintendent

COVID-19 cases are declining, interim Superintendent Kurt Stumpf tells school board.

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Pequot Lakes High School. Brainerd Dispatch file photo

As part of its search for a superintendent, the Pequot Lakes School Board is asking the public to participate in a survey through Oct. 25.

The board, which contracted with the Minnesota School Boards Association to provide guidance and assist the district with the search, seeks community and staff input.

All survey responses are anonymous, and the MSBA will summarize and provide an overview of comments in a presentation to the school board. Information from this survey will provide valuable input for the board to consider as it moves forward in selecting the next superintendent for Pequot Lakes Public Schools.

To complete the online version of the survey, visit www.isd186.org and click on "Superintendent Search Information." Hard copies of the survey are available at the district office.

Participants must complete this survey by midnight Monday, Oct. 25.

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In a special meeting Wednesday, Oct. 6, the school board received an update from Barb Dorn, the MSBA's director of leadership development and executive search, on how the association will aid in the district’s search for a full-time superintendent.

The district has requested that the MSBA serve as consultants in the search. Dorn walked board members through a litany of rules they must adhere to, including those regarding data privacy of candidates and the surveys and meetings the board must conduct before hiring.

The board intends to have a special meeting Thursday, Dec. 8, for interview training. The application window for candidates will close Dec. 21.

Every part of the hiring process is subject to open meeting law, and the board’s deliberations will be open to the public, but names will be kept private until finalists are selected.

As he has made it clear that he intends to apply for the full-time position, interim Superintendent Kurt Stumpf recused himself from this portion of the Oct. 6 meeting.

Also at that meeting, the board received a report from Stumpf regarding the district’s COVID-19 cases and mitigation process, which he said have been declining over the past two weeks.

“The highest was somewhere around 40 for a week, and then you can see (on isd186.org) last week was lower and we are seeing lower numbers this week,” Stumpf said Oct. 6. “One thing I will say is that our community has been really good to us, and I appreciate that. Them reporting COVID cases to us is what’s going to make this school year work.”

Last week, the district reported seven cases at the elementary level, while the middle and high school each reported less than five.

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Stumpf said work with Crow Wing County has allowed them to provide a KN95 mask for any student or staff member who wants one, as well as at-home test kits.

Stumpf also mentioned an issue with bringing in substitute teachers when the district is in need.

“If you go back and look at 2018 and 2019, the highest percentage of unfilled (substitute roles) was about 4%,” Stumpf said. “This year in September, we had an unfill rate of 14%, and fast-forward to the first part of October, and what we have so far is about 32%.”

Stumpf said other teachers and principals have so far “chipped in to make it work,” but that is having an effect, as those teachers lose prep time or time on other duties to cover. He said this issue is going on elsewhere, and plans should be presented to the board on Monday, Oct. 18.

Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or dan.determan@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.

Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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