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Colleagues honor Blackduck school leader

Blackduck School Superintendent Bob Doetsch

Blackduck School Superintendent Bob Doetsch has been named "Administrator of the Year" by a dozen fellow school officials in northwestern Minnesota. He will be honored at a regional meeting in Thief River Falls late next month.

The award was announced by Larry Guggisberg, Roseau School Superintendent and representative for the region in the Minnesota Association of School Administrators.

In announcing the selection which recognizes excellence in school leadership, Guggisberg said his fellow school officials "picked a good one."

Doetsch received his Bachelor of Science Degree at Winona State University in 1974, earning a coaching degree at the same time. He was awarded his Master's at Northern Illinois in 1979, beginning his teaching career at schools in Illinois and then in Minnesota schools at Orono, St. Louis Park and Minneapolis.

In 1998, he came to Blackduck as elementary school principal and in 2002, was named superintendent for Blackduck Schools, in addition to his duties as elementary principal.

Lorraine Warden, elementary administrative assistant to Doetsch, said the award reflects the superintendent's feeling for the school and for students. "He loves kids," she said, "and it just shows in everything he does."

As administrator for the Blackduck district, he has faced the challenges of financial difficulties, federal and state changes in regulation and goals, and most recently, the district's decision to go to a four-day school week. Currently, he is under direction from the school board to come up with alternatives to meet a fiscal shortfall with the least possible disruption to the school's operation.

Board chairman Dale Compton was out of the area and not available for comment, but board vice-chairman Grant Mistic said it was a great honor for Doetsch, and one that was well-deserved.

At a recent board meeting, Doetsch had warned of the possible elimination of several teacher positions and a resultant increase in class size. The problem has been exacerbated by reduced and delayed payments in state aid, a common problem for other districts throughout this area and the state at large.

Thirteen school districts are included in the district including Blackduck, one of four districts in the MASA Region 8. Since the awards have been made in the years since 1986, this is the first time it has gone to a Blackduck administrator. Last year's Region 8 honoree was Dr. James Hess of Bemidji.

Schools in Kelliher and Nevis are the only other schools in MASA's District 29 to have had their administrators honored, Nevis in 2001 and Kelliher a year later.