Moorhead Area Public Schools humming along into 2023, still dealing with support staff issues

Photo by: Moorhead Area Public Schools
Photo by: Moorhead Area Public Schools

(Moorhead, MN) -- In our latest check-in with area public and private schools, leadership inside Moorhead's public school district says the schools are humming along as we move into 2023.

"We're continuing with our school construction, our enrollment is stable, overall in general from what I've heard from staff is that they are thrilled with how the year is going so far," said Superintendent Dr. Brandon Lunak in a 1-on-1 interview with WDAY Midday.

Part of that discussion revolved around current staffing levels inside the district, something Dr. Lunak noted has been a challenge for quite some time now.

"We're doing okay, you know we'll always have our shortages in our areas of special ed and I think it's a getting a little more difficult to recruit the math teachers, the science teachers," said Lunak, who noted that there may be a reason why there are fewer teachers in the those subjects becoming available to hire. "It feels like the hiring pool for those kinds of teachers and candidates is getting a bit smaller."

As for the biggest hiring concern now in the district, Dr. Lunak says that continues to be support staff.

"Growing pains are continuing to be felt in our support staff hiring process," said Lunak. "That includes everything from paras to bus drivers." Currently, the Moorhead Area Public School District has 38 bus drivers on the payroll, and are training one more to begin work in the near future. Lunak says the goal of the district is to have 41 positions filled for the drivers, but they've made special accommodations, including a third route later in the day to Horizon Middle School, to ease concern of parents and students alike.

The biggest project still moving along for Moorhead schools is the news High School, which Dr. Lunak noted is fairly on schedule to this point.

"They should wrap up with Phase One construction towards the end of August," said Lunak. "But we did put in a bit of a window just in case of building issues or supply chain problems." The goal, according the Superintendent, is to begin moving staff and students to the new building come January of 2024. However, that doesn't mean work will be completely finished by then.

"After we move everyone over, we'll begin the Phase Two process of tearing down the old high school and replacing it with the Fine Arts Performance Center, the music band and choir classrooms, the admin space, a couple chemistry labs and a greenhouse." After that, Lunak says a final parking lot will be paved, completing the work.

As for a timeline on the finishing of the High School project, Dr. Lunak says the end goal is to have everything done and ready to go by the beginning of the 2025-26 school year.

Original Air Date: 
Friday, January 27, 2023