School year starts Tuesday in Ely

by Tom Coombe
Some may consider it bad news that it’s time to go back to school. Here’s some good news. The hot water system is finally fully functional in the Ely school buildings.
In Ely and in most other Minnesota communities including those around the Iron Range, school doors will swing open this week with the first day of classes on Tuesday.
The 2019-20 school year also brings some new faces to the district, including right at the top, with Erik Erie set to take over as superintendent this month, pending the completion of licensure requirements.
A longtime principal at Mesabi East in neighboring Aurora, Erie was tabbed this summer to replace Kevin Abrahamson, who is leaving after four years as the district’s part-time chief executive.
Megan Anderson (Memorial) and Anne Oelke (Washington) return as building principals, but both will be overseeing some new staff members.
Ely alumni Clara DeRemee is a new teacher in the elementary school while another Ely graduate, Max Gantt, has taken a physical education post that includes classes at both the high school and elementary levels.
Madeline Swenson is the district’s new media generalist while Matthew Koch has taken a part-time social studies position.
Returning to the district after a leave of absence is high school science instructor Todd Hohenstein.
Enrollment totals hinge on attendance this week, but projections show that student population in Ely is likely to be stable.
The district started the 2018-19 school year with 565 students, and estimates earlier this month showed that enrollment might inch up to about 570 in grades K-12.
Faculty members reported for in-service days earlier this week and an open house was held Thursday.
The 172-day school year starts with Tuesday’s opening bell.
School board members in Ely held a special meeting Monday, after their regular study session, to take action on several personnel-related items and two pertaining to athletics.
The board voted to hire:
• Swenson for the media generalist position;
• Kris Winkelman (cafeteria aide), Kristina Marshall (early childhood family education school readiness and teacher), Ruth Griffin (long-term substitute, elementary), Jennifer Stouffer (early childhood family education classroom assistant), David Brown (bus driver).
In other business, the board:
• Agreed to enter into a cooperative agreement with the Krekelberg Home School for volleyball and girls swimming;
• Accepted the resignation of cafeteria aide Richard Kovall;
• Approved a computer science principles course to be taken for advanced placement;
• Granted a salary lane change request from Brenda Check-Olson.
• Called back Cathy Braun to a paraprofessional position.