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Paynesville Press - July 4, 2001

School district hires three teachers

By Michael Jacobson

On the heels of four resignations from the district's teaching staff in recent months, the Paynesville Area School Board approved hiring three teachers at its meeting on Tuesday, June 26.

The board hired Phillip Carlson, who has nearly 15 years of teaching experience, as a high school math teacher; Brad Nepsund, a Paynesville native who taught here last year, as a middle school physical education teacher; and Gregg Kapsner, a recent graduate of Bemidji State University, as an industrial technology teacher in the high school.

Nepsund lost his position due to the budget cuts last winter. "He was cut because of low seniority, not because of performance," middle school principal Deb Gillman told the board. She said they wanted Nepsund back all along.

A spot opened for Nepsund due to the resignation of elementary school teacher Trish Skahan, who taught language arts in Paynesville for 22 years. She accepted a job in Sauk Rapids, closer to her home.

At one point, the plan was to move elementary physical education teacher Bill Virant to the middle school to teach health and P.E. and bring middle school social science teacher Dawn Knoll to the elementary to teach physical education. Now Knoll and Virant can stay, and Nepsund returns to his position. The school did not advertise this position.

Carlson replaces Todd Theisen, who taught high school math for five years in Paynesville but took a teaching job in his hometown of St. Cloud. Carlson will teach four periods each day in the high school and one period in the middle school.

Kapsner is a recent graduate who will be in his first year of teaching. He replaces Kevin Schimak, who took a job in Sartell after 12 years in Paynesville. Kapsner will teach three periods in the high school and two in the middle school each day.

Board members Dan Andersen and Deb Glenz did question Carlson's hiring, as he left a growing district (Sauk Rapids) that has been hiring teachers, including Skahan.

The administration told the board that Carlson was nontenured at Sauk Rapids. "He was let go from Sauk Rapids," said superintendent Howard Caldwell. "That's all we know at this point."

"I believe we've researched it," said high school principal John Janotta of the hiring. "I'm comfortable with it."

The school got six applications for the position, but four of these accepted other job offers.

The school district lost another math teacher due to the budget cuts this year. Mark Syvertson, who lost his job in Paynesville after one year due to the reductions, was offered a teaching position after Theisen resigned, but Syvertson had already accepted a new position in Sartell.

Unless more resignations occur, the staffing at the elementary school is now complete, elementary school principal Todd Burlingame told the board. Kindergarten and first grade will be the same, and second grade – reduced to three sections – lost Madonna Leimer to retirement.

In third grade – also reduced to three sections – Lonnie Lien will move to the Title I program. In fourth grade – also down to three sections – Bernie Voss will move to the fifth grade.

Fifth grade teachers for next year will be holdovers Mary Stock for science and Barb Werlinger in math; Voss in social science (replacing Rick Houske who will move to the sixth grade); and Cheryl Colbert in language arts.

In the high school, a new band director still needs to be hired, said Janotta, who indicated the school had made an offer but was waiting to see if it would be accepted. The current high school band director, Bryan Mara, who built the award-winning marching band, has accepted a job in Wisconsin after six years in Paynesville.

Janotta noted that applications for all three high school positions were scarce. He had less than 20 applications for all three positions. Six years ago, he had 30 applications for the band job, and this time he only had eight.

"Definitely things are happening to the supply of educators, and that's a concern," Janotta said.



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