The Williston Public School District 1 voted to approve two new positions going in to the 2019/20 school year.
At the Monday, Feb. 4 meeting, District 1 Superintendent Jeffrey Thake addressed the school board with his request for the positions, a K-12 library coordinator and a second Assistant Superintendent or Director of Student Services. The district has a K-6 library coordinator, but Thake stated he is looking to expand that position to include middle and high school students as well. He said that as the district includes kindergarten through grade 12, creating this position will provide uniformity throughout the District 1's schools.
"My thought process is always K-12," he explained. "This builds more continuity. It builds alignment, it builds cohesiveness, and we'd have an opportunity to have the right person in that position in order to build that continuity and cohesiveness that is very important. I'm not saying we don't have the continuity and cohesiveness already, but having one person with a unifying message and everybody following the same vision for what libraries should be, that's really what this position would entail."
Thake stated that the library coordinator would be more of an oversight position, coordinating meetings between the district's librarians, with the possibility of adding more librarians based on staff recommendations. He added that the position would also work closely with the district's Coyote Academy, a program for gifted students that the district plans to implement in the future.
"Libraries right now are the hub of personalized learning," he said. "What we want to do with our plan of action in our gifted and talented Coyote Academy, we're seeing libraries as the nucleus for where this gifted and talented academy is going to be. In order to facilitate that and manage and stay on top of that and grow it, this position for K-12 is going to be an important piece moving forward."
The second position Thake requested was for a second assistant superintendent or a director of student services. Thake explained that he was seeking approval for either of the positions, as an assistant superintendent would require a superintendent's license and endorsement, while a director of student services would only require an administrative license. Having an "either/or" option, as he said, would allow the district to seek out qualified candidates, without being limited by licensing requirements.
"What it does is, it gives me a little bit more flexibility and latitude when it comes to finding the right person for that position," he explained to the board. "What I'm doing with this, either an assistant superintendent or a director of student services, it just gives me a lot more flexibility to find the absolute right person for that position."
Board President Joanna Baltes said she supported the position, which would allow Thake to put more effort into larger projects within the district.
"We want Dr. Thake to be able to focus more on bigger picture and more strategic initiatives and have that vision for the whole district," she said. "And that's pretty tough when you're dealing with more of that day-to-day operational stuff. I'm glad that we're finally at a point where we're looking in to positions to support what (Thake) is currently doing here."
Thake added that the position would also be a liaison for student services and be interactive with alternative programming and special education programs.
"When it comes to our non-traditional students and our alternative students, they're going to be the voice of trying to determine what exactly we need to be doing for these individual students." he said.
The board voted unanimously to approve both positions.