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Lunak named acting superintendent for Moorhead schools

Moorhead School District Assistant Superintendent Brandon Lunak was approved by the school board on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, to be acting superintendent for the district. Lunak will handle day-to-day decision-making for the district while Superintendent Lynne Kovash continues treatment for pancreatic cancer. (Moorhead School District Photo)1 / 2
Lynne Kovash, Moorhead superintendent of schools, watches seniors cross the stage as she sits in the front row during commencement ceremonies Sunday, June 4, 2017, at Nemzek Hall. Dave Wallis / The Forum2 / 2

MOORHEAD — The Moorhead School Board moved to clarify the day-to-day decision-making in the school district, voting 7-0 to name Assistant Superintendent Brandon Lunak as the acting superintendent on Monday, Sept. 11.

The decision allows Superintendent Lynne Kovash to perform some duties for the school district as she continues treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Board Chairman Bill Tomhave said that over the past six weeks he's discussed the issue with Kovash, senior administrators, the state school boards association, human resources and the district's attorney, and was advised to "have an acting superintendent on site" so that the statutory requirements of the position are fulfilled.

"She's physically unable to do some of this," Tomhave said, adding that the move formalizes what has been done in the background since Kovash began treatment after announcing her cancer diagnosis to staff in mid-May.

Kovash has been doing "mostly remote work" for the school district throughout her cancer treatments this summer, district spokeswoman Pam Gibb said recently.

Later in the meeting, board member Matt Valan asked board members and the audience to pause silently for a moment to direct "good thoughts" to Kovash to give her strength and aid in her healing.

Tomhave said he couldn't say if Kovash will be back to work soon. "We'd love to have her back to finish this year," Tomhave said.

Kovash is working on a one-year contract for the 2017-18 school year.

In other business, the board was told completion of remaining school construction projects for the district may take a bit longer than had been expected as of a couple weeks ago.

Dan Kleist, a construction manager for Gehrtz Construction Services, said that in the race to get one wing of the Horizon West addition to Horizon Middle School ready for the start of school, crews had to be taken off other jobs on the site. That pushed completion of the northern academic wing back into mid- to late November.

Kleist said staff could likely start preparing their rooms in late November. However, switching classes to the new rooms may wait until the January semester break, Lunak said.

The three-story auditorium will also not likely be done until February, rather than the end of this year, as had been thought earlier.

"It's a very sophisticated building," Kleist said of the auditorium addition. "We want to be sure we get it right."

Completion of the Robert Asp, S.G. Reinertsen and Ellen Hopkins elementary school remodeling projects is awaiting delivery of student lockers, Kleist said.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including education, Fargo city government, business and military affairs. He is currently The Forum's K-12 education reporter.

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