The Mineral Point School Board held a special meeting Thursday, April 21 to tackle the main item of elementary principal.

Video of the meeting is here (scroll down past video for additional article text):

The Board unanimously approved two resignations effective the end of this school year–Brad Brogley, elementary principal, who is leaving to become Pupil Services Director at Platteville; and Tom Behrens, 6-12 grade special education teacher, who is leaving for Scales Mound, IL.

Both of these job vacancies have been posted:

Elementary principal:

6-12 cross categorical special ed:

Much discussion occurred around whether to post the elementary principal position, or to combine it with existing administrator duties.

Board member Lisa Hay asked the administrators present for a history of the position.

Superintendent Luke Francois stated, upon his arrival five years ago, he inherited a situation where Terry Hemann was serving as superintendent and elementary principal due to a mid-year departure by principal Kelly Seichter.

Middle school principal Vickie Dahl added that Hemann was receiving additional compensation to serve in both roles, and Quinn Schultz and Scott Schmitz also received extra duty administrative pay to cover the elementary building when Hemann was performing superintendent duties and was either at the middle/high building, or out of the district.

Francois stated a new hire would be the 6th elementary principal in 10 years. He also pointed to the increased amount of required staff evaluations due to the demands of Educator Effectiveness in the recent years, saying 10-15 hours per teacher are spent each year on evaluations.

Elementary principal Brad Brogley said the community and Board have been concerned as of late with school safety, as it has been a hot point of discussion at meetings. He said he would have concerns if an administrator was not in the building full time, from a safety perspective.

Brogley also spoke to his role as District Assessment Coordinator, which comes with a great deal of responsibility and accountability to ensure state testing is done accurately. The DAC must learn the demands of multiple exams, how to administer them, and how to analyze results. School ratings and report cards hinge on accurate testing and parents look to these numbers when making school enrollment decisions.

Brogley has also been serving as the District’s English Language Learner Coordinator, with similar attention to detail required as the DAC.

Hay asked if the Professional Learning Community (PLC) process has made it easier or more difficult for administrators.

Francois responded by saying there are many new state mandates, and in order to get a high level of accountability, the PLC process needs a lot of administrative oversight. He said the District’s scores continue to trend up and have never been higher, and without the same presence at the elementary, he would be skeptical if the trend could continue.

Hay asked Francois directly if the Administrative Team could bring back a recommendation to the Board that would combine the elementary principal position with existing administrator(s) duties, but still maintain excellence and not sacrifice services.

Francois said in his opinion, no. “We can’t do this with less and look the same.”

Director of Pupil Services Dixie Dempsey stated her concerns over multiple administrators handling discipline roles and parent contact and how that lack of consistency would be problematic.

Communications Director Joelle Doye praised Brogley for his public relations efforts, a vital aspect to establishing positive interactions with students, staff, families, and community–things that can’t necessarily be measured on a district accountability report, but are just as important in cultivating a positive school culture. She stated concern over these special touches still being present if the jobs were consolidated with people who already have full plates to handle.

Newly elected Board member Andy Busch, who will begin office April 25, stated the District will not under levy because once those funds are gone, they can never be reclaimed. Therefore, it’s a matter of what bucket are you going to put the money in. The District could take it from administration to put it somewhere else, but is there a trend between the current administrative structure and the rise in test scores?

Board President Larry Steffes asked Francois if the Board would vote to consolidate administration, what would be the first recommendation from the Administrative Team and Francois responded the team hasn’t even discussed that because that is not what they are recommending.

Francois stated a salary and benefit package for an elementary principal is already budgeted for next year and the District is not looking at referendum next year.

Brogley added he believes there are reasons why you put leaders in place in schools, including accountability and visibility. With the District moving in a positive trajectory, he would be concerned about taking a step back.

It was asked what the Board was hearing from staff and community members.

Board member Matt Lindsey said the people he has spoken with were outraged the Board was even considering not replacing Brogley.

Board member Julie Stephenson echoed that comment and reminded the Board to make decisions that are in the best interest of kids.

Board members Jeff Basting and Larry Dolphin stated they heard from people the District should look at cutting, but not this position.

Francois agreed and said not hiring an elementary principal would not be in the best interest of kids, adding the District has a model that is working and it is not necessary to cut this now.

Board member Glenn Kinch made the motion to post the elementary principal position with Hay seconding. Basting added the amendment the Board should have input on a salary and benefits package. The vote was a unanimous yes.