New Superintendent starts with New England School District

This month, newly hired Kelly Koppinger started his duties as the Superintendent of the New England School District.

Koppinger (RGB)

Posted July 4, 2014

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor |

This month, newly hired Kelly Koppinger started his duties as the Superintendent of the New England School District.

Koppinger, a 1977 New England High School graduate, returns to education after a year and a half in the banking industry.

“I’m excited to get back into education,” Koppinger said.

The new Superintendent had not always been in education. After his undergraduate work at Dickinson State University, Koppinger was involved in some business ventures before being offered the opportunity to help with some coaching duties in Richardton, ND. Knowing he was only a few credits short of education credentials, Koppinger, with backgrounds in Math and Science, finished the required credits and headed into the teaching industry.

After some years in teaching, Koppinger earned his masters degree from the University of North Dakota, and he began his career in the administrative aspect of education.

Koppinger, having spent time working in Stanley, N.D., and in the Dickinson Catholic school systems, he was excited for the opportunity to return to the community he graduated from.

It was his time with the Dickinson school system where he became reacquainted with the New England School District.

“I had some working relationships with the school district in the past,” Koppinger said.

He was an administrator when the two schools formed the co-op with the football program.

Koppinger is very encouraged at the state of the school district right now. He said they have been very diligent about keeping up the facilities and knows that the building was taken care of.

He is also happy with the strong academics the school system has sustained and would like to see that continued during his tenure.

“The district has always had a pretty strong academic venue that shows up in our test scores; it shows up in the state reports” Koppinger said. “I think the academic setting has been pretty solid.”

Koppinger also has experience with rapid enrollment growth, something many of the school districts in western North Dakota have experienced. Having worked with the Stanley School District, Koppinger saw enrollment grow from 300 students to 600 in the span of only three years.

According to Koppinger, that experience has taught him how to better adapt to rapid change when the energy industry brings population to small areas.

At this point, the enrollment projections in New England are ‘not very threatening, they’re pretty stable’ according to Koppinger. They’re increasing but not at a rate that’s going to require an expansion.  Koppinger said the current school is only at about 56-60% capacity.

Koppinger would like to improve on a few things, and one would be to offer a wider variety of electives students can take.

“With our enrollment increasing, I think we can look at a little long term, and a better solution for the district by offering a few more electives internally,” Koppinger said. Right now students are able to expand their education by utilizing the Interactive Television venues that the New England school offers.

Another improvement Koppinger sees an opportunity for are the bus routes, and finding a way to make them more efficient.

“We’re trying to minimize students’ time on the bus as best as we can,” Koppinger said.

Koppinger also added that housing issues for incoming faculty and competition for human resources (such as bus drivers) with the energy industry are hurdles most school districts in western North Dakota are facing at the present time.

Overall, Koppinger is happy to be working in education again and is looking forward to working with the New England community.

“I look forward to getting back into it and working with the community, the staff and the faculty and the students,” Koppinger said. “That’s kind of what I missed in banking, that interaction with the whole community.”

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