BCN School Board to Discuss Staffing at Retreat Tonight

Heidi Harris
Staff Writer

The Barnes County North School board is meeting for a retreat at the Gladstone Inn in Jamestown at 6 p.m. Thursday (today) to discuss the district's budget and future staffing needs, said Superintendent Mark Lindahl, who said he is resigning after the school year.

"There will be no board action taken tonight," Lindahl said Thursday morning. "This is an informational meeting."

The board plans to discuss the district's budget, future staffing needs and criteria for filling administration positions, including Lindahl's. Lindahl currently serves as superintendent, high school principal and activities director.

Board members tonight will "look at all areas to see if we're staffed properly — under- or over-staffed," Lindahl said.

Board president Lori Carlson said that board members will also look at the district's team teaching initiative, which began this fall. Carlson said BCN started putting two teachers in elementary school classrooms at the beginning of the school year.

"So we have two elementary school teachers teaching 20 kids together, so that puts us really heavy on the teaching side," Carlson said.

Carlson said the amount of teachers the district had last year and this year is about the same.

Elementary Principal Joan Klein came up with team teaching.

"We usually know that the more teachers per student the better, but at some point we're going to have to look at test scores and make sure it's doing what it needs to be doing," Carlson said.

Carlson said cutting teachers is an option.

"I don't know if it's anything we'll go with but it has to be talked about," she said. "We are looking at financially keeping everything on an even keel."

Carlson said the district is also struggling with declining enrollment. The district has 10 less students this year than it did last year. She added that state funding has affected the district's financial situation and that raising taxes this year isn't an option.

Lindahl said the board discusses staffing — both adding or cutting staff — every year at this time "to try and stay ahead of the game."

"We look at staffing every year," Carlson said.

Lindahl said the meeting tonight is open to the public but only board members, the superintendent and business manager will be allowed to speak.

The next board meeting at the school in Leal will be held Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. Board members will pass along recommendations from the retreat in Jamestown.