Superintendent explains: 18 teaching contracts terminated at Detroit Lakes Schools

Detroit Lakes Schools
Detroit Lakes Schools(Detroit Lakes, MN School District)
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 4:09 PM CDT
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DETROIT LAKES, Minn. (Valley News Live) - The Detroit Lakes School Board voted on Monday, March 27, to terminate or not renew the teaching contracts of 18 staff members within the school district.

Superintendent Mark Jenson says although this sounds like a lot, the actual number of cuts will end up being relatively low.

“Over half of the positions are people who are teaching either on a limited license, or out-of-field permission, and are working on getting their license,” Jenson explained. “These positions have to be non-renewed annually and the district has to open the position up for any qualified candidates. These are the difficult-to-fill positions and we are expecting to bring most of these folks back.”

Superintendent Jenson couldn’t discuss specifics of the contract terminations, but said it’s happening for a variety of reasons including budget, performance, and licensure. Another factor is pandemic-related funding that is now running out.

“We decided two years ago to spend our money on staff, not stuff. We could have upgraded buildings or equipment, but instead, the district wanted to have a greater impact on students after the pandemic. That money is reaching its end and we have to make adjustments,” Jenson tells Valley News Live.

Jenson says each principal came up with potential cost containments and the district tried to minimize impact on students and programming.

The district continues to watch enrollment numbers and track legislative actions to see where the state lands on funding bills. Between licensures and staff movements, Jenson says they are expecting the actual number of terminations to be around 3-5 staff.

“We just have too many unknowns, and out of respect for our staff, wanted to give them time to look for other employment rather than notifying them in June after the state legislature concludes. We take a conservative approach to school financing and have been on a good financial footing for a long time and want to continue the tradition of a conservative financial approach that has kept the Detroit Lakes School District financially healthy for future years.”

The 18 teacher contracts not being renewed include six elementary teachers; six middle school teachers (including special education, English, math, and social studies); and six high school teachers (including special education, physical education, social studies, health and e-learning).