Barnesville super takes Hawley job
Phil Jensen, superintendent in Barnesville, Minn., plans to resign from that position to fill the same post in Hawley, Minn. Jensen and Bill Martodam, chairman of Hawley's School Board, signed a three-year contract Thursday afternoon, they said. ...
Phil Jensen, superintendent in Barnesville, Minn., plans to resign from that position to fill the same post in Hawley, Minn.
Jensen and Bill Martodam, chairman of Hawley's School Board, signed a three-year contract Thursday afternoon, they said.
The deal is not official until next week, after the Hawley School Board approves the contract and Barnesville's board releases Jensen from the two years remaining on his three-year contract.
Until then, Jensen said he does not want to say much about the move, other than he enjoyed his time in Barnesville but wants a new challenge.
After starting with the Barnesville district in 1999, Jensen served five years as a principal before becoming superintendent last July.
Jensen's annual salary will be $93,000 next year, an $8,000 raise compared to his final year in Barnesville.
Martodam said many of the Hawley School Board's seven members were already aware of Jensen. Interviewing him confirmed a solid reputation, he said.
"Some people you just get a good feeling about," he said.
Jensen's personality will mesh well with the board, Martodam said.
"He basically tells it like it is," he said.
Board member Steve Aakre said people who know Jensen told the board he handles conflicts well and has a no-nonsense management style.
"He's a great, plain-spoken guy," Aakre said.
Jensen will replace Michael McLoughlin, who resigned in April after five years in Hawley to take the same job in the Chisago Lakes School District near the Twin Cities.
In his last year in Hawley, McLoughlin made $94,000, $14,000 less than the annual salary he will receive in Chisago Lakes.
McLoughlin will remain in the position through the end of June, after which Jensen will begin his duties in Hawley.
Hawley has about 900 students, Barnesville 750 and Chisago Lakes 3,500.
Barnesville School Board member Tom Ishaug said Jensen has done an excellent job.
"We wish we could keep him," Ishaug said.
The Barnesville School Board will meet Tuesday to discuss what to do next.
"We need a superintendent," Ishaug said.
It's not the first time the district has been in that situation.
The district was embroiled in a prolonged battle in 2002 and 2003 after a faction of the board unsuccessfully tried to fire former Superintendent Todd Cameron.
Cameron eventually resigned in January 2003, but not before a group of residents sued four members of the School Board, claiming they met secretly to plot Cameron's firing.
Jensen did a good job calming the waters as Cameron's first permanent successor, Martodam said.
However, that's not an issue the Hawley board gave much thought, he said.
"It wasn't the biggest determining factor by any means," he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporters Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535 and Jon Knutson  241-5530.