New PACT director is getting to know his new school

For last three months, PACT Charter School Executive Director Cory Klabunde has been learning a new set of books.

Cory Klabunde.Photo submitted
Cory Klabunde.Photo submitted

Klabunde joined Secondary Program Director Patrick Hobot and Elementary Program Director Shirley Delich in the executive office in August.

The three took over for Daniel DeBruyn, who served as the school’s administrator and head principal before resigning last spring.

Klabunde, who grew up south of Hutchinson, started his career as a physical education teacher before becoming the associate principal at Delano High School.

He has also served as high school principal at Minnewaska Area Schools, Caledonia Area Schools and the Buffalo Lake-Hector School District.

Before coming to PACT, Klabunde was school director at the DaVinci Academy of Arts and Science, which has 300 students.

Joining PACT provided him an opportunity to blend his public school and DaVinci experience, he said.

PACT has double the staff and double the students and a waiting list of 1,000 potential students, he said.

For the last couple of months, Klabunde has been getting to know the school, the students, staff and parents.

This school really fits into his philosophy that education is a three-legged stool with students, educators and parents working together, Klabunde said.

The level of parent involvement is higher at PACT than in the public schools, he said.

Being at a charter school is a choice and charter schools emphasize the need for parent involvement, Klabunde said.

“We have great parent involvement,” he said.

As Klabunde is learning the school, he is keeping an eye open for ways to add to the school’s revenue and reduce its expenses.

One of the things he is looking into is having the colleges directly bill the school for the 40-45 students taking the post-secondary education option (PSEO), rather than the state, Klabunde said.

This would allow PACT to keep any student revenue not required to pay for the college tuition, he said.

Currently, Klabunde is negotiating a tuition agreement with Anoka-Ramsey Community College.

The financial and legal aspects are still being worked out, Klabunde said.

Klabunde also plans to look at the existing contracts the school has, including its school lease, and insurance coverage for ways to reduce costs.

The school is required by the bond holder to have $1 million set aside to be able to pay the building lease as well as have money for cash flow, Klabunde said.

The school board has done nice job of creating a $3 million fund balance to allow the school the necessary cash flow to deal with changes to school funding by the state, he said.

“This board has been financially prudent and helped make this a strong district,” Klabunde said.

Last year, PACT Charter School had planned to open an online learning program, but the plan was put on hold because its sponsor, Bethel College, did not feel the school had enough administrators to handle the work load.

The school is putting together a task force to look at developing the online program, Klabunde said.

The school is also working with Northgate Church to see if there is space in the church’s planned building for PACT to use for the online program as well as other school programs, he said.

PACT is hoping to offer online learning in 2014-2015, he said.

Klabunde’s goals for the coming year are to keep the parental involvement and increase individual test scores, Klabunde said.

“I am just getting to know the staff, students and parents right now and getting the pulse of what is important,” he said.

After he knows that, “I can make bigger and better goals.”

Right now he is working on small projects, such as learning how technology is being used in the classrooms and how it can be improved, Klabunde said.

He is also in the process of getting wireless Internet installed in the school to increase the accessibility, he said.

Klabunde wants to see the students increase their Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment test scores.

The math scores were at 75 percent for the last test and reading was at 80 percent, Klabunde said.

He wants to see the students bring each score up by 5 percent.

Charter schools are always under a microscope and are expected to have higher scores because of the smaller class size and the rigorous programs, Klabunde said.

“The expectation is they should be better than the traditional schools,” he said.

A committee is looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the students’ test scores and looking how to go forward with the curriculum, he said.

Klabunde, who is a newly wed and is creating a blended family with his new wife, is also working at learning the community by joining the Ramsey Rotary Club.

Tammy Sakry is at [email protected]