MAHTOMEDI, MN - At Thursday's Mahtomedi School Board Meeting it was announced that the school board had selected Farmington Assistant Superintendent, Barbara Duffrin, to be the new Superintendent of Mahtomedi Public Schools. According to Ms. Duffrin's LinkedIn.com Profile, she has been in the Assistant Superintendent role with Farmington Area Public Schools for six years. Before that she spent time as the Principal of Boeckman Middle School (Farmington Area Public Schools) and Farmington Middle School East. Prior to coming to Farmington, Ms. Duffrin was a the Principal at Roseville Area Middle School from 1993 to 2003.
Duffrin received her Masters Degree in Teacher Leadership from the University of Minnesota. Also a degree in Educational Administration from St. Mary's University in Winona, and her Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics and French from Grinnell College.
Will Barbara Duffrin's New Yorker in her reign in the Mahtomedi School Board and Administrators?
During Duffrin's finalist interview, she joked about the New Yorker in her and being able to get things done and waking up to sing the school fight song. The financial woes and high non-resident open enrollment as a perceived means of survival for the Mahtomedi School District will be new to Duffrin. According to the Minnesota Department of Education, the Farmington Public School District has more than double the student population of Mahtomedi Public School District (7073 v. 3222). The non-resident open enrollment rate for the 2017-18 school year at Farmington Public Schools is 4%, while Mahtomedi Public Schools is at 27%. The Farmington Public School District has grown over the years with an increased local property tax and revenue base. Once Tri-Metro Conference Foes with Mahtomedi High School, Farmington was a community very similar to Mahtomedi in the 1980's and 90's in respect to demographics and size, but the two communities couldn't be more different now. The Mahtomedi School District Boundaries have had aging demographics, low birth rates, high home values with little real estate development. While Farmington has much lower, affordable cost of living that has attracted younger and more diverse families. This is a new reality that Duffrin will have to face.
Refer below to the 2017 Consolidated Financial Reports from the Minnesota Department of Education that show Farmington Public Schools receive far less revenue from local property taxes per student than Mahtomedi Public Schools. A direct correlation to the number of non-resident open enrollment.
How Duffrin will recommend the Mahtomedi School District Local Property Taxpayers continue to subsidize non-resident open enrollment will be a hurdle she may have a hard time clearing. In Duffrin's Final Interview she expressed what a good financial position the Farmington Public School District is in. The proof is in the numbers for Farmington Area Public Schools with a balanced, residential enrollment size that matches the local property tax base.
Tempers Flared at Last Thursday's Mahtomedi School Board Meeting
At Thursday's Mahtomedi School Board Meeting tempers flared on the topic of if the school district should proceed with hiring open key administrative positions or wait until the new Superintendent starts. Current Superintendent Mark Larson became defiant to the discussion and stated "I can speak for all superintendents that there is not a single one and absolutely no way a superintendent would saddle a incoming superintendent with a crummy candidate." School Board Member Payne spoke very calmly and was poised to clarify that it was about the process, and not second guessing Larson's judgment.
The school district has negotiated early retirements with many long time key administrators, seventeen veteran teachers are leaving as well at the end of the school year. The school district currently has the Director of Special Education, High School Athletic and Activities Director Position open. In addition, Superintendent Larson also stated that the Mahtomedi School District can expect many current teachers to leave, move or retire over the summer.
2009 Right Sizing Schools Turned to Wrong Size District. Dollars turn to Desperation for New Students. School District
Celebrates & Highlights of 11 New Resident Students
The Mahtomedi School District is in very big financial trouble with a deficit of over $1 million dollars and sinking reserve fund. The desperation and fragile state are coming through when school district administrators speak about students in small single digit numbers. At the Mahtomedi School Board Study Session that occurred last month, Superintendent Larson randomly announced that three students have given the school district the notice that they will be attending other high schools next year and not returning to Mahtomedi High School. The school district will have first grade classes at 26 students per class (4 students over the metro average class size), unless more students register.
About 10 years ago is when the Mahtomedi School District decided to "Right Size" the schools. The "Right Size" plan was based on a study performed by an outside consultant that helped the school district come up with a ideal target number of students for the high school. The determined ideal number of students at the Mahtomedi High School was 1200, or 300 per grade. No matter what the local property taxpayers can financially support, they will be picking up the tab for 1100 additional open enrolled students. The State of Minnesota Funding covers only 72% of the cost to educate these open enrolled students, the local property taxpayers will subsidize the difference.
The school board went in to Closed Session on Thursday to work on the details of Duffrin's contract. The parameters of the contract or offer have not been made public yet.
Watch Video Clip of Mahtomedi Superintendent Candidate Barbara Duffrin Discuss Opting Out of State Standardized Tests
Watch Video Clip of Mahtomedi Superintendent Candidate Barbara Duffrin Discuss Mistakes, Levy and Strategic Planning