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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ruthven-Ayrshire superintendent Bunt resigns

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Superintendent Norene Bunt
The Ruthven-Ayrshire school district will be moving forward with new leadership in 2012-13 school year, following the resignation of Superintendent Norene Bunt at the district's board meeting Tuesday evening.

Bunt has been with the district since July 1, 2010, and her last day will be June 30.

Her resignation was announced following a closed session meeting that lasted about 15 minutes. The board voted 5-2 to accept the resignation, with Board President Ray Grandstaff and Vice President Susan Sikora opposed.

The vote capped an emotional night, as more than 30 staff and community members joined the meeting. Les Douma, of D & M Consulting Services in Orange City, facilitated discussions about board roles and responsibilities as well as recent successes, struggles and challenges of the district.

"We took comments from some of the people," Grandstaff said. "It was pretty emotional. Basically, it was the same things being said a year ago. ... The community has had some difficulty facing changes in the school. The end result we want is for the school to continue to be here and sometimes the process getting there is a difficult one."

Bunt's recommendations were not always popular, Grandstaff said.

"To step into a district and recommend cuts to the tune of $200,000 is a very hard thing to do and this cannot be done without someone not being happy," he said. "Dr. Bunt's prior job was dealing with improving reading proficiency, which was R-A's No. 1 goal. She observed classrooms, evaluated and worked with teachers. Some of this was new with teachers and was met with resistance."

Grandstaff believes Bunt had the best interest of the district and the students in mind.

"I do think Dr. Bunt cared very much for the students at Ruthven-Ayrshire and wanted the best for them," he said. "The board wanted better reading scores and proficiency and she was doing as the board had requested."

Prior to the news of Bunt's retirement, the board had discussed positive developments within the district.

Fiscal year 2011 expenditures were less than revenues for the first time in at least four years, improving the district's unspent balance and increasing the district's solvency ratio, which had declined to a serious level, Grandstaff said.

Technology, teaching strategies and improved communication also made the list of improvements.

"Dr. Bunt has changed our technology program with our own information technology person," Grandstaff said. "This was a great improvement and helps with cost and computer problems. Dr. Bunt has pushed forward with teaching strategies and tried to work with teachers to improve classroom instruction. Communication -- with the newsletters, website, open-door policy and community meetings -- has put the facts and information available for the public."

Following Bunt's resignation, the board did not immediately discuss finding a replacement.

"The board will have to decide what route to take to hire a new superintendent," Grandstaff said.

The next board meeting is scheduled for March 12.

Bunt could not be reached for comment prior to press time.