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Our View: Sullivan will be missed

In most places, eight years flies by with not many changes, but Dickinson is not most places.

Our town is so much different than it was in 2009 when Doug Sullivan took over as school superintendent. The oil boom was in its infancy in our area, and our town, though bigger, wasn't that much different from Sidney, Mont., his previous superintendent position.

No one knew at the time how this latest boom would affect our town, much less our school system. Nowhere was there a blueprint for how our community and state should respond to the boom.

The boom brought tons of new people to our community and their kids to our schools, which had to adapt quickly to the many challenges from that influx of kids.

The school system, like every other employer, struggled to find teachers and affordable housing for those teachers. The cost of living exploded and presented real problems not only recruiting employees but also negotiating contracts for teachers. Overcrowding in grade schools seemed to become a real problem almost overnight. Dickinson Public Schools and school boards met the many challenges head on, and our community stepped up. There were some tumultuous contract negotiations, but at the end of the day, the contracts got done thanks to the give-and-take from both sides.

Overcrowding in the elementary schools was eased with the building of Prairie Rose Elementary School. Next up, the need to build a middle school became a priority for Dickinson schools. Our beautiful, state-of-the-art middle school was completed last summer and welcomed students this fall. Obviously, with record births at Dickinson's hospital and increasing kindergarten-class sizes, the need for a new high school is not far off. Dickinson really is fortunate that school administrators and boards have been very proactive, and planning is already under way.

Dr. Doug Sullivan has been an integral part of the process and a calming influence during these past eight years. Sullivan did a great job communicating what was happening at the schools and seeking public input in meeting many challenges. His constant communication with Dickinson during the past eight years was a major reason for the landside vote in favor of the new middle school.

This week, Superintendent Sullivan offered his resignation, and we at the newspaper believe there is no doubt his expertise will be missed. We don't know if he is retiring but wish him all the best in the next chapter of his life.

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