R-P School Board to offer superintendent contract to Thompson

By : 
Scott Bestul
Tri-County Record

In its second special meeting in seven days, the Rushford-Peterson School Board made perhaps the biggest decision it will face in the coming year. The board voted unanimously to offer a contract to Jon Thompson to become the next superintendent of the Rushford-Peterson School District.

Thompson is currently serving as the superintendent of the Aplington-Parkersburg Community School District (A-PSCD) in Aplington, Iowa, and was one of three finalists for the R-P superintendent position.  

Though Thompson has not yet signed a contract, R-P School Board Chairman John Linder confirmed that Thompson has verbally accepted the position. The board’s Budget and Finance Committee is scheduled to meet this week to assemble a salary and benefits package. Assuming Thompson accepts that formal offer, he will begin his duties at the close of the 2018-19 school year.

The superintendent at A-P Community Schools for the last 13 years, Thompson emerged as the clear front-runner after the board offered a second interview to three candidates on Friday, Feb. 8. Also interviewed were Todd Lee, superintendent of the Howard School District in Howard, S. Dak., and Jay Meiners, a teacher at Lakeview Public Schools in Cottonwood, Minn.

The school board interviewed the three candidates, then convened for a special meeting to discuss the interviews. Also in attendance, and giving input to the board, were R-P staff and administrators, and their comments also reflected a strong support for Thompson. R-P high school English teacher Forrest Musselman summarized staff input, and middle/high school principal Jake Timm spoke for district staff and administrators, who were all invited to listen to the candidate interviews.

Thompson drew praise for many qualities that he exhibited during the interview process. “We were impressed by his knowledge of the community and this district; he’s really done his research and obviously spent time here,” Musselman said as he summarized teacher input. “He stressed acting as an ambassador for the school to the community.”

Timm noted that Thompson’s desire to “do what’s best for kids really stood out. And he’s experienced and battle-tested.” Councilor Wade noted, “Jon was very genuine and seemed like he really wants to be here.” Councilor Prinsen seemed to sum up the general feeling of everyone involved in the process when she said, “Before this second interview I felt all candidates were pretty equal, but after today I don’t feel the same.”

Councilor Michel received an appreciative round of laughter when he noted, “[Thompson] is from Iowa, and the last one we got from there was pretty good.”  

New head track coach

In other business conducted at the special meeting, the board voted to hire Dale Moga as head coach of the Rushford-Peterson/Houston track and field team. Moga applied for the position vacated by long-time head coach Gary Wade, who announced his retirement from the post earlier this year. Supt. Ehler and Activities Director Dan Bieberdorf voiced their strong approval for Moga as they brought the recommendation to the board. “Dale has been a long-time assistant to Gary Wade, and will continue the successful traditions he established,” Ehler said.

Moga will actually serve as co-head, as the Houston District will hire a coach to serve in a cooperative coaching agreement. Though each coach will specialize in his/her special events, one will serve as head of the boy’s program and the other will lead the girl’s team. How those duties will be divided has not yet been determined.

Early retirement option

In a previous meeting, the school board had tentatively agreed to offer a two-year early retirement option for district teachers.

During this special meeting, however, Supt. Ehler requested that the board rescind that action and instead extend this early retirement to a three-year period. “While this offer will not affect many staff members, it will help the district as it considers its staffing needs going into the future,” Ehler said. After a brief discussion, the board voted unanimously to adopt this three-year early retirement option.

Schedule

There is a special meeting of the R-P school board scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 5:30 p.m. The following Monday, Feb. 25, will be the regular monthly school board meeting. All members of the public are welcome to attend.