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Waubun has 1.4 million on the line: Help wanted ... and make it fast

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The Waubun-Ogema School District is scrambling to try to fill an open teaching position before school starts, and time is of the essence.

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That's because this part-time position has a lot riding on it -- $1.4 million, to be exact.

That is how much the school district is receiving over the next three years in the form of a School Improvement Grant (SIG) after being targeted as a district needing an academic 'turnaround.'

With the money comes a list of stipulations, and one of them is that the school provides an extended school day.

Waubun does this by hiring a high school teacher to be available after school for an additional two hours.

"Students come in and work on anything they need to work on with that person to fit their needs in the area they might be struggling in," said Waubun High School Principal Michael Cary.

But if the school does not have somebody in that position to offer those services by the time school starts in a little over two weeks, the district is in violation of the SIG requirements -- putting its $1.4 million dollars in jeopardy.

Last year, the district had the position filled, but ended up offering that teacher a full-time social studies position at the high school, leaving a vacancy that is proving hard to fill again.

The .375 (part time) job, which offers no benefits, has been posted for roughly two months with zero applicants in that time.

Now, with the clock ticking, the school administration is hoping to "sweeten the deal" by formally offering "first dibs" on substitution duties to whomever takes the extended day position.

This is what the district did informally last year, and Cary says that teacher ended up subbing almost every day, essentially bringing it close to full-time status.

But will that deal be enough to bring somebody in quickly enough?

If not, the school board says it will then entertain the idea of making it full-time position -- a move that would cost the district roughly $10,000 more between the salary difference and benefits.

This is not the route school board member John Teiken would like the district to take, since it potentially brings with it complicating issues if a tenured teacher was hired.

The position would only be for another two years, but that is long enough to qualify a teacher as "teaching faculty," which then gives that teacher rights to any open position at the school after the two years are up.

"It'd be better to keep them on a substitute-per-day pay then to have them on a teacher salary," Teiken said.

If it is not a tenured teacher that is hired, that point is mute.

"The SIG grant is something we don't really want to mess with, though," added School Board Member Jon Syverson, before the board decided to give the part-time posting one week.

If there are no applicants in that time, the board will call a special session to possibly approve the position as full time.

If it still remains unfilled at that point, Cary says they will notify officials in charge of the SIG grant to let them know the situation and that they are "working as quickly as they can to get somebody in there."

For information on how to apply for the job, log onto www.waubun.k12.mn

.us and click on district information, then job openings.

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