Retired ‘super’ considering Ely

Ely Board votes to hire John Klarich, who led MIB, NK

UPDATE: The Ely School Board held a special meeting Thursday night and voted to offer the interim part-time superintendent position to John Klarich. Pending contract negotiations, Klarich would succeed Erik Erie, who is resigning Jan. 30.

by Tom Coombe
A long time Iron Range school administrator may be next in line to lead the Ely School District.
School board members were scheduled to interview John Klarich Thursday night, after the Echo’s deadline, for the district’s soon-to-be-vacant part-time superintendent position.
Klarich, who is now retired, has been a superintendent in both the Mt. Iron-Buhl and Nashwauk-Keewatin school districts.
Klarich also was one of two finalists for Ely’s superintendent position in 2019, when a motion to hire him failed on a 3-3 board vote and the post ultimately went to current superintendent Erik Erie.
Citing health reasons, Erie announced earlier this month that he would resign on Jan. 30.
The move came several months after Erie signed a new two-year contract.
At a Dec. 13 board meeting, member informally authorized chairman Ray Marsnik to continue discussions with an unidentified “retired superintendent in our area,’ who had shown interest in filling Ely’s vacancy on an interim basis.
Since then, the board set up the special meeting to talk further with Klarich and to consider the next steps in filling the vacancy.
A Buhl native, Klarich is currently mayor of his hometown and when he interviewed in Ely two years ago, he said he found himself drawn back into education despite retiring from both N-K and MIB.
At the time, Klarich showed familiarity with area legislators, funding sources and processes and how to obtain outside money for a major facilities project.
He also said leadership should be developed “from the ground up,” with input from faculty and staff and “our clientele,” - the district’s student body.
The vacancy comes somewhat abruptly, midway through the 2021-22 school year and as the district wrestles with numerous issues, including budget shortfalls on a $20 million building project as well as declining enrollment, a budget deficit this year and challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the resignation letter signed by Erie and included in Monday’s board meeting packet, the superintendent communicated a desire to resign as soon as Jan. 30 during a closed-door performance evaluation held last month.
A former principal at Mesabi East as well as elsewhere in Minnesota, Erie came out of retirement in 2019 to take the part-time superintendent position in Ely, replacing Kevin Abrahamson.
Over the summer, Erie had inked a new two-year deal with the district.
It called for him to work three-and-a-half days per week this year, or .70 full-time equivalent, and reverting back to .60 FTE for 2022-23, with the additional time set aside this year because of the facilities project.
Pay was set at $88,375 for the first year of the deal and $76,508 for the second. The contract did not include a health insurance benefit.