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RESP prepping for its future

The Roughrider Education Services Program is working to figure out its next step — be it hiring a new director, merging with Bismarck-based Missouri River Educational Cooperative, or dissolving.

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The governing board met Wednesday evening at Hawks Point on the Dickinson State University campus to discuss the next step since the former executive director announced her resignation in October.

The board unanimously decided to hire Tom Conlon of MREC as the substitute director to support Maurice Hardy of Beach in his role as interim director, which was decided at the Nov. 6 meeting.

“He would not be accepting any kind of title other than he would be a sub-director,” board chairman Bill Gion said. “He would assist when we ask him to come, when he can come and Mo (Hardy) would remain as our interim.”

The board fleshed out the details of Hardy and Conlon’s employment. Hardy is compensated at an hourly rate of $26 per hour, eligibility for overtime and reimbursement for travel, lodging and meals when applicable. He is prepared to serve as interim director on a part-time basis through the end of the fiscal year, June 30, or until a director is hired.

Conlon has a day rate of $500, $250 for a half day and will also be paid mileage, meals and lodging within reason. Neither is receiving any type of benefits package from RESP.

“He would be helping us get an accurate job description, helping us find a person,” Hardy said. “Tom and I have already been talking about an education facilitator.”

In his month at RESP, Hardy has been consulting with Conlon.

“Tom’s been working for us, he’s just not getting paid,” Hardy joked.

One of the things Conlon would like to do is reach out to Dickinson Public Schools, which left RESP last spring.

“If Dickinson Public can be approached and brought back into the fold, then that’s that many more students we’re reaching,” Gion said.

The board also formed a merger committee to look into combining RESP and MREC.

“It’s a chance for both sides to take a look,” Hardy said. “This will give us a good opportunity to look and say, ‘What would it look like if we did merge?’ ‘What will it look like if we stand alone?’ It won’t be an emotional decision; it will be a researched, thought out decision.”

If the two regional education associations do not decide to merge, forming the committee could lead to a stronger bond between the two organizations, Gion said.

The committee would come back with a recommendation in February.

In the meantime, RESP is preparing to look for a new executive director.

Members Carie Boster of the Halliday School Board and Sharon Holder of the Bowman School Board began drafting a job description for the executive director position, should the board decide to remain an individual REA.

“What we need is a starting point,” Hardy said. “We have direction and that’s what we need to get going.”

When RESP was first established, it was set up using school guidelines — holidays, hours, vacations — but as time goes on it becomes more apparent to board members that RESP is a business that serves educators, and should be treated as such, at least when it comes to hours.

With that in mind, Hardy suggested regular hours for administrative assistant Erin Krause, with guaranteed paid holidays through the rest of the fiscal year.

The hours could be revisited in the next year, beginning July 1. Krause has been paid an hourly rate based on two contracts — one through RESP and one through the Succeed 2020 grant. Hardy would like to simplify and correct this.

“The contract was more of a guideline than it was a contract,” Hardy said.

The board unanimously approved the change.

“This is another step of clarification of whether or not we’re a school or a business,” Holder said. “And it’s just becoming clearer and clearer that we are evolving into a business.”

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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