Kingsland School Board hires coach after discussion on process

Chairman Doug Plaehn
By : 
By Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Spring Valley Tribune

Kingsland’s School Board members disagreed momentarily as to whether to proceed with hiring a candidate for the 2018-2019 varsity girls’ basketball coaching position.  The board opened its April regular board meeting with a call for approval of the agenda, and board member Ann Oeltjen asked that the item under the hiring category, to choose coaching candidate Steve Hauser, be removed before agenda approval in order to hold further discussion. 

Oeltjen stated that she had concerns that had been discussed at the board workshop the previous Monday evening about how the hiring process had been carried out, as there might have been student input. 

“I wanted to bring it up again because I felt that the hiring panel was not objective enough,” said Oeltjen.  “There were students on the panel, and one of the panel members was what I would consider a subordinate of the candidate.” 

Superintendent Jim Hecimovich had pointed out during the workshop that he didn’t think that the students had had any direct input on who would be given the position, and board members approached the matter by considering whether to re-post the position or use the same candidates and same interview panel to seek a girls’ basketball varsity coach.

Chairman Doug Plaehn remarked that he felt that it would be best to re-post the position entirely and require all three candidates interviewed to reapply for the job. 

Board member Tiffany Mundfrom wanted to know whether doing so or re-interviewing the same three candidates would open the board to any legal limbo, or if it would set a precedent for the process in the future. 

Plaehn stated that he thought that the board needed to make a decision, and Oeltjen made a motion not to approve the hire and to reopen the position. 

Board member Jackie Horsman questioned, “Even if we reopen it, how do we determine that the process has been changed?” 

Plaehn commented, “I hope that if we don’t approve it, the administration won’t use the same process, and if a board member has any angst about it, they can be a part of the panel.” 

Plaehn then called for a second to Oeltjen’s motion the mandatory three times, but the motion died for lack of a second.  Mundfrom then made a motion to approve Hauser’s hiring, and Plaehn called for a second twice before Horsman offered up a second.  The motion passed 5-1 with Oeltjen opposed. 

In other items, Plaehn read the review and comment on the proposed gymnasium and performing arts center that is the subject of the upcoming May 8 referendum, citing that the state education department has given it a positive mark.  Residents of the district are encouraged to vote during the special election. 

Cody Merkel gave the FFA chapter’s news, including that there were 23 students bound for the state FFA convention to compete in their respective career development events (CDE), and that there were four students receiving their FFA state degree and two participating in the FFA courtesy corps.  Lastly, he invited the board and public to purchase tickets for the 2018 school FFA banquet slated for Sunday, April 29. 

Personnel matters remaining on the agenda included accepting the resignation of head dance coach Paul Eckheart, hiring varsity assistant football coach Tim Bestor and yearbook co-advisor Christine Vreeman, and granting a maternity leave for Meagan Streiff.  Additionally, the board approved tenure for three instructors — Erin Mills, Ben Hansen and Morgan Jacobson.    

The board expressed its appreciation to Kingsland’s Community Education soccer coaches, including Jen Fergeson, Brynjil Hyde, Jared Hagstrom, Kyle Rader, Liz Newberg, Matt Jordan, Kelly Opseth, Karen Stephans, Shaun and Sheila Knode, Ross Musel, Mike Rainey, Trevin Rath, Cody Stuart, Noah Williams, Shane Mensink and Santi Drees. Also, the board recognized Anne Jo Voorhees for volunteering to supervise the Kids’ Night Out field trip to the movie “Sherlock Gnomes,” Our Savior’s Lutheran Church for its donation of a piano to the music department, the Deer Creek Long Spurs chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation for its respective $500 and $250 donations to the Kingsland trap team, Daniel Hellerud for his $100 donation to the trap team, and Mari Blanchard for chaperoning the Kingsland Art Club’s recent trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Walker Sculpture Garden and bus driver Mike Blanchard.  

The consent agenda included approving the minutes of the March 19 regular meeting and the April 9 special meeting and monthly workshop.  The next workshop is slated for Monday, May 7, at 6 p.m. in the elementary conference room.  The special election to determine whether a new gymnasium will be built is set for Tuesday, May 8, and the board will accept the results during a meeting on Thursday, May 10, at 5:45 p.m. in the conference room. The next regular board meeting will take place on Monday, May 21, at 6:30 p.m. in the choir room.  The public is welcome to attend.  For more information, log onto the Kingsland website at, or call 507-346-7276.