SHULLSBURG – The Shullsburg School Board of Education chose Mark Lierman as principal and Dana Bendorf as assistant principal at Shullsburg Community Schools on Wednesday, May 10.
The school board has been looking for a new principal since the current principal Tom Fischer gave his resignation at the March 2017 meeting.
According to District Administrator Loras Kruser, the district made a significant change administratively in terms of the way they will utilize their principals.
“The district has had three principals in the last five years and so we are looking for a situation where someone will bring some stability and remain in the district,” Kruser explained.
Through the interview process, they had several great candidates from internal to external candidates, Kruser added.
The board opted to restructure the process.
“Previously it has been one person that has been the Pre-K through 12 principal. Given the demands of the job and the changes that have occurred through educator effectiveness and a whole variety of issues in education today, they decided to make the principal position a two person team.”
As a result, the board chose two internal candidates: Mark Lierman, who was the Jr. High and High School science teacher and Dana Bendorf, the music teacher, teaching instrumental, vocal and general music courses. Lierman, a long time basketball coach with the last eight years of his 30 year career coaching the boys basketball team and finishing with a 141-59 boys basketball record and 324-272 record overall, also stepped down from the head coach position.
Along with teaming up as principals, Bendorf and Lierman will be sharing the Athletic Director position. That position was a stand-alone position. They will take different parts of that position such as attending meetings or scheduling games.
One of the things that the candidates talked about, specifically Lierman and Bendorf, was that they wanted to have this administrative structure be a team opposed to working in isolated areas with individual grades. Having two people in the position as principal will hopefully provide opportunity for there to always be an administrative presences, as Kruser is only part time as District Administrator.
“We wanted to make sure that there was going to be someone here. We want both of these people to know what is happening throughout the building, since we are Pre-K through 12 and for both of them to know what is going on and be able to deal with situations as they arise,” Kruser advocated
There will be other specific responsibilities that they may have but the school district is currently developing their descriptions and will have something before the beginning of next school year.
“There is really going to be some significant changes that are going to occur in the structure of the principal position but we also feel that these changes will be better for us in terms of how the district operates,” Kruser said.
Their previous positions have been posted. The school district will be accepting applications for another couple of weeks.
The district has been looking at the possibility of having to go to referendum. Shullsburg has not had a referendum since 2012 to put on the roof. Before that, it wasn’t since 1994 when the school had a $5.2 million referendum to add on to the building and do significant renovations.
Shullsburg is facing issues where the facilities need repairs, since the last major repairs or updates were made 23 years ago.
“We joke that the gymnasium on the other end of the building, which was built in 1994, is the new gym,” Kruser jested.
They are looking at maintenance issues, such as the HVAC units on the roof, that have a life span of 18-20 years but were put on 23 years ago, or flooring, again where tiles were placed in 1994, need to be replaced now as they are showing their age with cracks.
“There is some general maintenance that we have just been pushing to the back burner because we don’t have the money in our regular operating budget,” Kruser stated.
Kruser stated that the district is looking at a “window of opportunity”. The bond issued for the roof referendum from 2012 will be paid off in April 2018, so essentially the district will be debt free at that time. The districts mil rate is currently at $8.83 and they are projecting it to drop down to $6.07 for the 2018-2019 school year.
“We are looking at this to be able to do a number of issues in terms of maintenance and some improvements. There is a number of technology related issues also.”
They have been working with technology on a 1:1 basis with students from fourth grade to 12 and those devices will have to be replaced and other technology updated. Kruser said there are simple technology updates such as the school does not have telephones in classrooms.
“Given the security and things like that today, we would like to see those kinds of upgrades occur within the building. It seems relatively simple but they are not cheap. It costs money to do those simple kinds of things that we just don’t have money in the general operational funds.”
A representative from Robert W. Baird & Company, a financial service firm, which has helped the district during their past referendums, on giving them guidance on where to go from here.
Kruser indicated that they are in the very early stages of discussion at this time. No actual cost has been determined.