As New Members Take Oath, Superintendent Foster Remains on Leave

By KBJR News 1

January 3, 2012 Updated Jan 3, 2012 at 11:26 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - One continuing and two newly-elected Duluth School Board members took their oath of office today, acknowledging big challenges ahead.

From the superintendent's absence, to finishing the long range facilities plan, there's a lot of issues on their plate.

One of the biggest issues will be the upcoming budget for next school year.

That's the biggest challenge the two newest members believe they will face.

So far the school district is projecting a budget deficit of $4 million to $5 million for the 2012 - 2013 school year.

The two newest sworn-in board members, Mike Miernicki and Bill Westholm, believe they will be able to help make those tough decisions and keep cuts away from the classroom.

"We have to find some sources of revenue. We have to cut where we can and hopefully we'll be able to balance the budget in a couple of years," said Miernicki.

"I think I can add some positive things to help us make comfortably and as far away from kids as we can," said Westholm.

Outside of the budget, the board still needs to deal with finishing the long-range facilities plan, work to reduce the achievement gap, and deal with the possibility of having another referendum in the future.

The board also chose their new chairperson, vice-chair, clerk and treasurer.

Chairperson - Ann Wasson

Vice-Chairperson - Tom Kasper

Clerk - Judy Seliga-Punyko

Treasurer - Mary Cameron

No word yet on when superintendent Dr. I.V. Foster could be back from administrative leave.

Although Dr. Foster has all his documents in to get the Minnesota Superintendent license that he has working without since July, the State Board of School Administrators is still waiting on documentation from Illinois, where he was a superintendent before coming to Duluth, to finish processing the application.

The Minnesota superintendent license is required for the job and officials say obtaining the license is something Dr. Foster should have done when he began in July.

Dr. Foster was put on paid administrative leave December 19th after administrators found he had no Minnesota license.

Friday, the school board plans to have a closed meeting to discuss the situation.

Bill Gronseth is still working as acting superintendent.

Posted to Web by Jena Pike