Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Adminstration size, duties debated in Ely

Keith Vandervort
Posted 5/14/14

ELY – The ISD 696 board of directors discussed administration size and responsibilities for the Ely School District Monday night.

Superintendent Alexis Leitgeb is considering changes in the …

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Adminstration size, duties debated in Ely


ELY – The ISD 696 board of directors discussed administration size and responsibilities for the Ely School District Monday night.

Superintendent Alexis Leitgeb is considering changes in the administration for the 2014-15 school year as the budget comes together. She presented a configuration chart to directors for consideration.

“By moving things around I believe we would be working to people’s strengths,” she said.

The superintendent will continue to act as federal programs director in addition to her duties as superintendent. That salary is paid from two sources, the General Fund and a Title I Grant. The 6-12 principal position will also act as the Community Education director. The General Fund and the Community Education levy pay that salary. The E-5 Principal position will also be responsible for Special Education. Solely the General Fund pays that salary.

“I think most people know where I stand,” said Board President Ray Marsnik. “ I believe that (the number) of full time administrators is excessive for a school district with 550 students.”

Director Scott Kellerman said, “My opinion is that they are doing these other jobs.”

Director Amy Richter said the discussion comes around every spring. “It gets uncomfortable when we look at data that says we should have a part-time superintendent, part-time high school principal and part-time elementary principal,” she said.

Marsnik agreed that the principals are taking on more responsibilities, citing the community education and Title I coordinator positions, freeing up funds from different accounts.

“In the past there has always been this push in the public perception that we only need two (administrative positions).” Richter said. “I think it would benefit all of us if the press put it in that they are doing these other duties that we’ve absorbed from other positions.”

Director Rochelle Sjoberg agreed that the administration’s added duties are extensive. “I have been spending a lot of time this last year with the mandates that are coming down for the school districts to have to do which are absorbing a significant amount of time. That work has to be done.”

One example she gave was the changes in the teacher evaluation process. “That is going to be rolling to the teachers and principals. I care about the budget significantly but there comes a point in time where you also have to be thoroughly looking at the job duties and requirements and exactly the workload.”

Leitgeb pointed out that in the new configuration every administrative position has federal dollars or a levy supporting it. “We continue to look at the special education dollars. Two out of the three positions now are not taken completely out of the General Fund,” she said.

Title I funding comes from a federal grant. Community Education is funded from a levy. “If we can get special education dollars for the other (position) then in essence all three of our administrative positions would be paid by outside resources or a portion of them,” she said.

Marnik said he likes to compare ISD 696 with three other districts in the area. “Mt. Iron-Buhl has a superintendent/principal combination,” he said. “I compare us with Chisholm. They have a superintendent/principal position. And I compare us with Nashwauk-Keewatin. They share a superintendent position with Greenway school system.”

If you look at administrative costs per pupil, there’s Ely right at the top,” he said. “I don’t how long we’re going to be able to go along with that.”

Leitgeb offered to provide directors with a job duties analysis for each administrative position.

“We do have new things coming down the pipe,” she said. As part of the recently-passed state legislation, school districts will now be required to provide an anti-bullying officer.

School counselor responsibilities are changing as well, Leitgeb said. The board accepted the resignation of current school counselor Afton Pender at the end of the current school year. “There’s a couple of these new mandates that, after talking with Afton, we felt that some things could move to the superintendent to take on and not have the add the additional tasks onto the existing staff.”

The administrative configuration will be discussed at the June School Board meeting. The date of the next meeting was changed from June 9 to June 16 because of a director’s conflict.

No beer sales

The School Board approved a request from the DeRanged Rollergirls group to hold events in the Ely Ice Arena on July 12, Aug. 9 and Sept. 13, but denied their request to sell beer on school property, citing state statute and liability issues.

School District Attorney Kelly Klun said alcohol sales on school property are generally prohibited unless there is an exception made – that exception being only the sale of beer with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent.

“In terms of the risk, if someone got hurt on the campus or outside of the campus it could be that (the school district) is potentially liable,” she said.

“When cities or other government entities do this, they do require liquor insurance and a catering license, but here it is limited to the 3.2 beer,” she said.

Richter said she has been to other roller derby bouts and observed the responsible serving and selling of alcohol. “They are very strict with the way they work it,” she said.

Ely and International Falls are the only communities in the North Country that have ice arenas as part of the school campus. Most venues are operated by government entities.

Sjoberg said her position is “this sends a very odd message from the school district.”

She said she understands that the group is trying to make more income at the events. “I appreciate that, but not on school grounds.”

Other business

The School Board took the following actions:

• Approved awarding the baseball complex electrical work to Burntside Electric Inc., of Ely, for approximately $30,000;

• Tabled the request from Incredible Ely to waive the cost of food service staff in the kitchen/cafeteria for the blueberry pancake event for the Blueberry Art Festival in July;

• Agreed to dissolve the cooperative sponsorship regarding girls hockey beginning in the 2014-15 school year due to lack of participation;

• Denied the request from Joselyn Murphy to pay her severance, agreeing with the ruling of the arbitrator;

•OK’d the facilities use request from the Northern Lakes Artists Association for a July 14 opera presentation;

• Tabled the hiring of Darren Visser for the head girls basketball coaching position for 2014-15 school year to review the district’s hiring policy;

• Approved the hiring of Mary Wognum and Jacki Tolbert for the Special Education Extended School Year paraprofessional position;

• Hired Kimberly Binion for the part-time general office clerk position; and

• Appointed Daren Visser as school representative to the Ely Parks and Recreation Board.


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