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New academic year, new administrators

The new academic calendar year comes with administrative change in South Washington County Schools.

Nearly half of District 833’s top administrators are new as four department directors started July 1. There remains one administrative vacancy to be filled.

Two assistant superintendents started this week, along with a new finance director and a director of teaching and learning. The district is hiring a director for the Special Services Department.

The latest hire was Dan Pyan as finance director. Pyan comes from Winona Area Public Schools, where he worked as director of fiscal affairs. Prior to his four years in Winona, Pyan had similar positions in New Prague and Stewartville.

Superintendent Keith Jacobus praised Pyan’s fiscal knowledge, including his attention to maintaining or building healthy budget reserves in the districts where he has worked. District 833 has drawn down its budget reserves in recent years to avoid further spending cuts.

“We are excited about the extensive background in Minnesota school finance Mr. Pyan carries,” Jacobus said in a statement. “He is recognized as a leader in the state, and we are pleased to have him join our system. His knowledge base and past experiences will help us continue to improve our processes and the services we offer to our students.” 

Pyan replaces Aaron Bushberger, who was hired by the South St. Paul School District.

Other hires

Matthew Dorschner is new to the administrative team, but not the district. Dorschner was hired as director of teaching and learning. He previously was an elementary specialist. He replaces Randi Anderson, who left for a similar job in the Eden Prairie School District.

Julie Nielsen, the former Middleton Elementary School principal, and Michael Johnson, an administrator from the River Falls, Wis., school district, are the new assistant superintendents. They replace Dave Bernhardson and Keith Ryskoski, who announced their resignations in March.

Jacobus and School Board members thanked the departed administrators for their work.

“Their efforts will be missed and we’ll be able to really benefit from their time in the district,” Jacobus said.

Still to be filled is special education director. Special Services Director Jeff Jorgensen recently resigned to become special education director for Edina Public Schools.

Jorgensen led a department overseeing early childhood and K-12 special education programming as well as health and psychological services.

Jorgensen said in a statement that he had worked with Edina’s superintendent in the past and knew of the district’s accomplishments. Jorgensen said he was planning for the next school year in District 833 when asked if he was interested in applying for the Edina position. He said it’s the right move personally and professionally.

“It is very bittersweet for me to be leaving during this exciting time of change,” Jorgensen said in the statement. “I am leaving behind a tremendously talented group of educators and administrators, all of whom are committed to serving the students and families of District 833.”

There usually are administrative changes each year, but five departures among cabinet-level staff in one year is unusual.

Earlier this spring, Jacobus said he and the district support the administrators’ decision to move on and that the departures do not signal problems within the district.

There is change on the School Board as well. Michelle Witte will be sworn into office July 17, filling out the remaining 18 months of Jim Gelbmann’s term. He resigned last month.

Also on July 17, the School Board will give Jacobus his annual performance evaluation. He is starting his third year as superintendent.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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