ELY – The grandson of two Ely residents accepted an offer last Thursday to become the next 6-12 principal at Ely Memorial High School.Jeffrey M. Carey, of Eveleth, and two other candidates, …
ELY – The grandson of two Ely residents accepted an offer last Thursday to become the next 6-12 principal at Ely Memorial High School.
Jeffrey M. Carey, of Eveleth, and two other candidates, Hibbing administrator Mandy Huusko, and Northland Learning Center Dean of Students Crystal Poppler, were interviewed by ISD 696 school board members and an extended committee of administrators and faculty last Wednesday after the Timberjay’s deadline.
The position was vacated by Megan Anderson who resigned her principal post at the end of the year to return to an Ely middle school teaching position.
By unanimous board decision, Carey was offered the position later that evening and accepted the offer last Thursday morning, according to school board chair Ray Marsnik.
“His previous principal and superintendent experience really stood out,” he said. “The extended committee (of faculty and administrators) were also fond of the choice. We are fortunate to get him.”
Most recently, Carey was the ISD 2909 Rock Ridge School District Construction Liaison, since 2020, and previously was the ISD 2154 Eveleth-Gilbert School District superintendent/elementary principal from 2014-2020, and Grades 5-8 principal. From 1996 to 2013, Carey was employed by ISD 2142 St. Louis County School District where he held a number of positions including K-12 principal at Cherry, Tower and Cotton schools and dean of students at Cotton school.
Carey started his post-secondary education at Vermilion Community College in 1991 and attended Moorhead State University, Bemidji State University, University of Wisconsin-Superior, and St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Carey holds licenses and certificates for district superintendent, K-12 principal, K-12 special education, 7-12 social studies and 7-12 coaching.
Marsnik said Thursday that he was impressed by Carey’s answer to an interview question about addressing the district’s declining enrollment.
“He said we have to offer a good product and have a good relationship with our college here,” Marsnik said. “And he stressed having a positive learning environment.”
Marsnik added, “All three of the interviews went really well, Carey’s experience really stood out. And it is nice that he has a connection to Ely with his grandparents from here and his VCC education.”
The school board’s contract negotiations committee is in talks with Carey to finalize a starting salary. He is expected to start his duties in early August.
“I’m very happy with our new principal,” Marsnik added. “I was a little concerned that he might be looking at other locations, but we are fortunate that he verbally accepted the position.”
In light of yet another recent school shooting where 19 children were gunned down in a Texas school, Ely school board members last week expressed their school safety concerns and discussed secured entry protocols with the new school addition opening this fall.
“With the new single secured entrance, are we going to have secretarial staff on both sides?” board member Rochelle Sjoberg asked. “Are we going to review policies and practices for visitors coming in? In this small community, it is tough because you know people, you know parents. I would like to see us review our visitor process with badges, and knowing who’s in and who’s out.”
Anne Oelke, K-5 principal, assured board members that staff reviewed crisis planning all year.
“We are all on board with really communicating heavily coming in August what our new crisis planning will be, and all of the new changes with the new building and secured entrance. We all received feedback that communication is key when that incident happened in Texas. It brought to the foreground what we are doing here in Ely.”
Sjoberg suggested that school board members receive an overview of the school safety plan before it is rolled out.
“So we have an understanding. That knowledge and refresher is good for everybody,” she said. “Any kind of change like that is going to stir up some frustration. It is for your safety.”
While staff and faculty will continue to be able to enter any school door with their authorized key card, all students and visitors throughout the school day will be required to enter the building through the single secured entrance located in the new building addition between the Memorial and Washington buildings.
“All doors will be locked except for the front door,” Oelke said.
Apparently, included in the new facility construction plan, an office will likely be provided for Ely police officer use.
“This room would be for storing equipment and such,” school board member Tony Colarich said. “That is for discussion. I’m not saying that is something we are going to do. It is something that we are going to discuss.”
Interim Superintendent John Klarich offered a clarification.
“Whatever role (for police on campus) the school board, administration and staff would like to see,” he said.
In other business last Wednesday, the school board took the following action,
• Approved a contract agreement with the confidential/supervisory employees union, including facilities director Tim Leeson, payroll coordinator Jordan Huntbatch, and superintendent’s assistant Mary Wognum.
• Hired Heidi Omerza, Ely city council member and spouse of school board member Tom Omerza, as a full-time fifth grade teacher.
• Hired Amanda Nelson as a Home-Based Learning Teacher.
• Hired Erika Mattson as a Preschool Summer Skills Classroom Assistant.
• Accepted the resignation of cafeteria aide Richard Kovall.
• Accepted quotes from Como Oil and Propane for the district’s 2022-23 fuel needs for $1.68 per gallon (bobtail) and $1.54 per gallon (tanker). Both prices are about 50 cents per gallon higher than last year.
• Approved quotes for the district’s milk products from Prairie Farms, bread products from Pan-O-Gold Baking Co., and snow removal services from Phil Hegfors and Sons Construction for the upcoming school year.
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