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School Hoping Changes Will Fix Financial Mess

February 2, 2012, 10:00 PM by Kelly Bartnick

School Hoping Changes Will Fix Financial Mess
BEAVER CREEK, MN - The Hills-Beaver Creek School District is hoping a staff change will be the start of bailing them out of a financial mess.

Thursday evening the school board accepted the resignation of its current superintendent and hired an interim leader.

Usually it's sporting games and activities that pack the house. But, at the Hills-Beaver Creek High School, it was all about business and the budget.

A packed house of families from both towns gathered for a standing room only special school board meeting.

“You got probably the populations of both towns of Hills and Beaver Creek in there,” parent Tonya Rodriguez said.

And, the district is deciding how exactly how the district will move forward from this.

“We're trying to take the steps we can. They're not always the easiest moves we can make, but we still do them in the best interest of the district,” School Board Chair Gary Esselink said

Esselink says as soon as the board took action when it discovered how bad the situation was.

“Until our audit is for sure and we can't give inaccurate information. I don't want to perpetuate rumors, that can be misconstrued,” Esselink said.

That led to Superintendent Dave Deragish's resignation January 27.

“There's so many students that like him, and a lot of parents even,” Rodriguez said.

The board accepted that Thursday evening, and they also hired someone to take his place. 

Interim Superintendent Herb Benz will work on when he starts Monday. Benz is a retired Twin Cities administrator who has worked both in Minnesota and Montana.

“As far as if it can be fixed, it has to be fixed no matter what the problem is,” Benz said. 

Hills-Beaver Creek is already in operating debt. No one will know just how strapped for cash the school district is until an independent audit is finished. But administrators don't believe the school can't dig out.

The district believes that delays from the state of Minnesota when schools receive payments are contributing somewhat to the issue.

Benz's appointment runs through June 30.

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