Board extends ‘super’ deal

Abrahamson staying for up to 90 days while Erie gains license

by Tom Coombe
Outgoing superintendent Kevin Abrahamson will lead the Ely School District for up to three more months while his replacement obtains necessary licensure.
At a special meeting June 28, school board members approved the deal with Abrahamson, in which he will remain superintendent and mentor new chief executive Erik Erie.
Erie, who most recently served as high school principal at Mesabi East, was hired for the district’s top job just three days earlier on a 4-2 vote.
The transition was approved to give Erie time to complete superintendent licensure requirements, which include 280 practicum hours that he can complete under the oversight of Abrahamson.
Abrahamson, who is leaving the district after four years, will be paid $6,000 a month to continue as part-time superintendent for the length of the agreement, which goes until Oct. 1 or the time Erie gains licensure.
Should Abrahamson work into September, the district would also provide per diem payments to cover lodging for one night per week.
Abrahamson, who came to Ely in 2015 after retiring from administration jobs in the St Louis County School District and Duluth, was paid $5,500 per month under terms of a contract that expired June 30.
Board members approved what amounted to a three-month extension for Abrahamson in quick fashion.
The board gathered for its special session and voted unanimously to approve the offer submitted by the outgoing superintendent.
Erie’s hire is still subject to reference and background checks as well as a contract agreement.
He spent over a decade at Mesabi East and had a previous principal job in Fisher, located in northwestern Minnesota.
Erie was one of two finalists in what was a second posting for the district superintendent job.
An earlier search failed and Erie was picked after interviews June 25, when both he and John Klarich interviewed for the job.
An initial motion to hire Klarich, former superintendent at Nashwauk-Keewatin and Mt. Iron-Buhl, failed on a 3-3 vote.
Erie is set to join the ELy district in the midst of activity on several fronts, including the potential advancement of a major facilities project that would almost certainly require approval of a bond referendum and property tax increases.
The district is also planning a community survey on the facilities issue, exploring the possibility of seeking Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board funding for the initiative, and possible collaboration with the county district, which operates schools in Babbitt and Tower.