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School board OKs administrative shifts
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MONROE - It's official: Next year, Monroe High School will have co-principals instead of the existing head principal-assistant principal arrangement.

The school board voted unanimously for the administrative reorganization Wednesday, despite concerns from two community members that the district was pushing the plan through too quickly.

The reorganization includes several key administrative changes:

• The district will not hire a new associate principal at MHS to replace Nick Schultek. Schultek said last month he will resign at the end of the year, citing personal reasons. He has held the position one year.

• Director of Curriculum and Instruction Jennifer Thayer will be co-principal of MHS with Mark Burandt, the current head principal. In addition, Thayer will continue to be in charge of curriculum for grades 9-12.

• Cory Hirsbrunner will remain as principal of Monroe Virtual School and take over as director of curriculum and instruction for 4K through grade 8. Hirsbrunner no longer will serve as principal of Northside Elementary School.

• Amy Timmerman, a school psychologist at Northside and Monroe Middle School, will become interim principal at Northside. The Department of Public Instruction has confirmed she will be receiving her administrator's license and she will be given a one-year contract, Brown said.

Brown said the reorganization is an effort to use the district's personnel more effectively. Thayer started the conversation about changing her role, he said, noting she has a "passion for high school curriculum."

The district discussed the plan in closed session Monday, with details announced to staff first and later to the public Tuesday. Superintendent Larry Brown said a reorganization plan has been discussed in the past, but details "fell into place over the past few days." A special meeting to approve the plan was announced Tuesday morning.

That raised concerns for both Tim Seichter, a Monroe parent, and Jerry Guth, a longtime MHS teacher. Both men aired their concerns with the plan at Wednesday's meeting.

Seichter said he was concerned that the change was happening so quickly.

"It raised concerns why that would be pushed through so quickly," he said.

Guth said he was concerned the plan would be passed without seeking input from staff. "Not that it's bad," he said of the reorganization. "But the process does make a difference."

MHS staff didn't find out about the proposed changes until Tuesday.

"You need teachers helping the administrative team" work through the transition, Guth said. A better process might have been to inform staff of potential changes and seek input, he added.

The inability of finding a strong candidate to replace Schultek was a factor in the decision, Brown said. The board looked at several candidates for assistant principal but none seemed like the right fit. Typically, this is not the time of year administrators are seeking new positions, he added.

Board member Brian Keith echoed Brown's comments. He said the board interviewed assistant principal candidates Thursday, but there was not one candidate that everyone was comfortable with. Keith said he was pleased that by Monday, a good solution using existing administrators had been worked out.

"Both Jennifer Thayer and Cory Hirsbrunner have proven they are exceptional administrative leaders," he said.

Board member Bob Erb also said he was comfortable with the time frame on the plan.

"It's a good plan," he said.

Another reason for having the meeting Wednesday was that the board already was assembling for an expulsion hearing. Immediately before the special meeting, the board met in closed session and expelled a male high school student. Brown would not say the reason for the expulsion but said the student is reinstated for services elsewhere within the district.

The co-principals will be considered equals, Brown said. Burandt and Thayer are working out the details of who will handle specific duties, such as discipline and attendance. The change goes into effect July 1.

Brown said the reorganization will not cost the district additional money, but it is too early to say if it will save dollars.

It may not have been the ideal process, but the board's discussion did alleviate at least some concerns.

"I understand why they did what they did," Guth said.