Board begins search for new superintendent

Staff Writer
Jennifer Edwards
The Big Lake Board of Education officially accepted Supt. Jonathan Miller’s letter of resignation at their meeting last week. 
They appointed Executive Director of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Crystal Thorson interim superintendent while a search is underway for a new, permanent superintendent for the school district, which is expected to take about one year. 
In his last year at the school district, Miller’s annual salary was $158,906 or $76.40 per hour. Thorson earns $134,388.80 as Director of Teaching and Learning.  She enters a new contract after her approval as Interim Superintendent and will receive a salary increase.
(See separate story about Crystal Thorson submitted by Big lake School District Public Relations Manager Kayla Stai in this issue).
A search for a new superintendent is expected to take about a year and will begin with focus groups and community surveys, the writing of a job description and a nationwide search for the best candidate, Chair Tim Hayes said.
“Why does the process take so long?” asked Board Member Dan Nygaard.
“Superintendents tend to be around for a very long time,” said Hayes. “We have only had three in all the time I have been here.”
A selection committee will narrow the list of candidates down to five, who will be presented to the board in March for interviews. The selected candidate is expected to take up the position in July, 2015.
The board approved a resolution to rejoin the Minnesota State High School League this year.
The board approved filing dates for school board candidates from July 29 through Aug. 12 this year. Voters will get to select their school board members at the general election in November. Up for election this year are Board Members Dan Nygaard, Tony Scales and Tim Hayes.
Board members had their first reading of two polices at the meeting. The first is on acceptable use of technology, which applies to staff as well as students. The second was on discipline, which was last revised in 2007. 
The board also approved renumbering of district policies. letters remain the same. The change is intended to make the policies more accessible, says Human Resources Manager Bart Appleton.
Employment agreements for nonaffiliated workers were approved, Board Member Tom Pietrzak reported. 
“Insurance costs stayed the same,” he said.
The board agreed to set a cap of $10 per family for high school and middle school fine arts performance fees.
“We were asked to consider doing away with it,” said Board Treasurer Tony Scales. “But some of that money goes to help fund the programs, so this is a compromise.”
It currently costs $3 per person to see a school concert or performance.
The board approved the 2014-15 budget presented by Director of Business Services Angie Manual. They also approved the health and safety Badger and the May treasurer’s report. (See separate story).


(From left) Lexi Freund (Big Lake), Betsey Cornelius and Ben Cornelius (Nowthen), Gunner Dorweiler and Colton Dorweiler (Princeton), Ben Manning (Zimmerman), Bailey Dorweiller (Princeton) and Salene Krueger (Big Lake.) The county fair runs from July 16-19. (Photo by Ken Francis.)

Dr. Lola Sutherland is retiring from clinical practice after 33 years in the Big Lake community. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards.)

SMITTY’S AMATEUR FIDDLERS CONTEST drew 22 musicians to compete in Big Lake this year. They were accompanied by Gilmore Lee.

LEE GERHARDSON, 47, from New London, was found dead in Big Lake near the swimming beach in 10 feet of water Monday. Cause of death is unknown at this time but foul play is not suspected.

Adopt-a-Road participants volunteer for Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and work to clean roadsides that border and bisect refuge land. This spring, from April to June, approximately six individuals, three families, and seven groups, such as boy and girl scouts and 4-H groups, volunteered to clean countless miles of roads. (Submitted photo.)