July 17, 2014

New Town schools prepare for fall


By Jerry W. Kram

It’s still the middle of summer, but the New Town School District is getting ready for Back To School.

The district is in good shape for the 2014-15 school year, said Superintendent Marc Bluestone. He told the board that all of the district’s classroom teaching positions have been filled, but that a few other positions remain open.

"The biggest gap is that we do need an auto mechanics teacher," Bluestone said. "But we didn’t have one last year either. I have talked to a few people who were interested until they heard what the position paid. They’re earning $70,000 in the oil field and they aren’t willing to give that up."

The other important position that remains to be filled is that of school counselor. Bluestone said he would like to add extra special education positions for the elementary school and preschool, but those positions aren’t as critical. He is also looking for someone to take on the role of curriculum supervisor.

"Those would be great to have, but we can survive without them," Bluestone said. "We are in a good position, especially compared to last year. We have had a lot of success recruiting teachers from out of state. If you look at the job boards where we post our positions, there just are no teachers from North Dakota available."

Bluestone added that the competition for teachers is especially intense in the districts in the Bakken. Talking with other superintendents, he said many candidates play the schools off against each other trying to get the best signing bonus.

"We’ve been able to avoid most of that so far," Bluestone said. "There is an unbelievable fight for positions. When you have someone come here after looking for a job in Pennsylvania or Idaho, they are a little bit more greatful."

The board also reviewed the changes to the school’s handbooks. The school uses three, one for students and parents, one for teachers and one for coaches and activity advisors.

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