One of the first decisions the new board for Williston Basin School District No. 007 will be how to merge the business offices of two school districts.
At the board’s first meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 29. much of the discussion centered around how to hire a business manager for the new district. Under the reorganization plan, the board has to first offer the position to a current staff member of either Williston Public School District No. 1 or Williams County Public School District No. 8.
Board member Sarah Williams brought up the possibility of keeping both Jodi Germundson, the business manager for District 1 and Sherri Heser, business manager for District 8, creating a co-business manager position. She said splitting the duties could help the process of starting the new district.
“That’s one thing I’d like the board to think about,” she said.
Board member John Kasmer agreed and said he had been talking with others about it.
“I think it would be something that could work very well and could be advantageous for the first year,” he said.
The question of what would happen after that troubled some board members, though. Cory Swint said he thought the idea would make sense for the first year, but because of how much the positions are paid, he thought the district couldn’t afford to continue that.
“Then salaries would have to take a drastic cut,” he said.
Board Vice President Kyle Renner said he could see the value in two managers for the first year and possibly the second, but not beyond that.
Chris Jundt, board president, said having a single person leading the new district’s business office would be best.
“There’s got to be somebody that runs the department and one person that’s held accountable from the board’s perspective,” Jundt said.
Kasmer, though, argued it would help the process of unifying the two districts during the first year.
“I think the smoothest transition possible is to have both of those people working for us,” he said.
Jundt suggested using a scoring rubric during an interview. With a rubric developed in advance, both the board and the candidates would know what’s expected.
Board member Thomas Kalil said because of the different sizes of the districts — District 1 has more than 4,000 students while District 8 has nearly 800 — meant board members might not be aware of what both were responsible for.
“I think there needs to be some board member education before we can have a better discussion on this issue,” he said.
Board member Heather Wheeler moved to hold an interview process for one business manager, and Swint seconded. Kasmer and Williams voted no while Jundt, Kalil, Swint, Renner and Wheeler voted yes.
Renner said he understood the points both sides were making but came down in favor of choosing one business manager.
He and others noted that there would still be room for both in the district, even with different titles.
“I think it should be a superintendent decision,” he said.
The board voted Jundt as president unanimously and voted Renner as vice president with five votes to Kalil’s two.
The board decided to hold a public meeting on Jan. 26 about the curriculum of the new district. State law requires a newly reorganized district hold that meeting before Feb. 1.