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NYM School District explores admin models

With the search for a new superintendent complete, the New York Mills School Board is now trying to find the best administrative model for the district.

Current high school principal – and future superintendent – Blain Novak presented three possible options to school board members at a meeting on Monday.He said all the options “come with a benefit, but all of it comes with a cost.”

The three options were drawn up with suggestions and help from the district’s administrative team, staff and other local educational leaders.

The first option would keep things as they are now, with a full time superintendent, full time high school principal and full time elementary school principal. The total salary cost for this model would total an estimated $251,500-$264,500, which makes it the most expensive of the three.

However, Novak said it’s a model that gives administrators clearly defined roles, as well as enough time to fill those roles effectively. It’s also a model that is familiar to the community, and perhaps even expected.

The second option would have a combined superintendent and high school principal position, a full time elementary principal, and a full time dean of students at the high school.

This model would be less expensive than the first, at a total salary cost of $225,500-$238,500, and it would ensure that the superintendent is always directly involved in curriculum and instruction. A dean of students would have some limitations compared to a licensed principal, but would function in almost the same way. Novak said this model has failed in the past, however, and can create internal conflict. It also involves additional costs for outsourcing of some duties that the dean cannot perform.

The third and final option presented by Novak takes a more building-wide approach, doing away with separate high school and elementary principals and instead calling for a full time K-12 principal, full time K-12 dean of students and a full time superintendent.

The total estimated cost of this model is the same as that of the second model. The K-12 focus would keep discipline consistent, and curriculum aligned, throughout the grade levels. But Novak said it would also spread the principal and dean thin, requiring them to run from one end of the building to another all day, every day. The job definitions would also need to be clearly defined, he said, as this would be a change for the district.

When asked by the board what his preference would be, Novak said he’d prefer to keep things as they are now. While a combined superintendent/principal position would likely “give the team a little more continuity,” he said, the jobs are also very different, and both roles are demanding on their own.

School board members had little discussion on the matter Monday, instead agreeing to talk more at a special workshop before their April board meeting.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Perham Focus more than five years ago, and has since worn many hats as writer, editor and page designer. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their one-year-old son, Simon, and their yellow lab, Louisa. 

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