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School District No. 1 to hire and hire . . . and hire

Posted 4/25/12 (Wed)

By Lauren Billing
Farmer Staff Writer

The McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 is looking to hire 12 teaching positions and two administration positions for the 2012-2013 school year. With a growing enrollment and building expansions, the district is working to fill needed teaching positions.
Positions available at Watford City Elementary School include kindergarten, first grade, second grade, fourth grade, sixth grade, Title I, speech pathology and a new principal.
The elementary school hirings will fill five retirements and two resignations, as well as adding four new positions.
Kindergarten, first grade and second grade will each grow to include four sections. This year they each had three sections and were larger than what District No. 1 would like to see in its classrooms.
“Our class size for those grades could drop to anywhere from 15 to 20,” says Holen. “Less than 20 would be a great achievement because we certainly don’t have that now.”
Last week at the McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 School Board Meeting, the board approved seven contract offers for teaching positions at the elementary school. An offer was also made for the principal position. Acceptances are expected by the end of the week.
“The district hopes to have all the elementary school teachers secured by the end of April,” says Holen.
At Watford City High School, there are openings for a math teacher and the dual positions of a high school social studies and physical education teacher and an assistant principal and athletic director. The three high school openings are all new positions for the school.
“These new positions are in anticipation of further growth,” explains Jay Diede, Watford City High School principal. “Space in our math and social studies classes is already tight. We want to keep our electives in addition to required courses and these teachers will allow us to do that.”
The available positions at the high school will be addressed at the May school board meeting, according to Holen.
Hiring new teachers is exciting for District No. 1. It will bring fresh ideas and energy into the schools, but it also drudges up the continued problem of finding affordable housing.
At last week’s meeting, the school board heard a presentation from Lutheran Social Services (LSS) regarding a proposed project this summer.
LSS has already produced successful housing projects in McKenzie County. Under the direction of Jessica Thomasson, LSS completed an affordable housing project in Watford City in 2009. The result was Creekside Cottages, which has 12 twin homes (24 rental units) located just south of Watford City Elementary School.
District No. 1 hopes to partner with LSS to provide affordable housing for current and incoming teachers and their families.
“The board is committed to securing housing units,” says Holen. “We are working on locking in a long-term lease situation that would be available to teachers.”
All the new faces to come also has the district looking for ways to ensure new teachers have the tools and support they need.
“Through our school improvement process we hope to have a stronger mentoring program,” says Holen. “We are planning in-service days for new teachers that will help begin a continued commitment to a structure that will support new teachers.”
The McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 is changing and growing in nearly every way possible - new teachers, building projects, new students and new leadership. But despite the growing pains, excited engagement in educating today’s youth remains high throughout the district. Hopefully, all the improvements and additions will allow District No. 1 to continue its tradition of excellence in education.