North Beach superintendent, board members resign

Board president says small group of constituents created “unspeakably hostile climate”

The superintendent and two school board members of the North Beach School District are resigning due to hostile behavior from a small group of constituents, according to a statement read by the school board president on Tuesday.

In a meeting filled with jabs and finger pointing that exposed major fissures between individual board members and the public, the school board approved resignations of board members Kristin Farris and Robert Doering, and confirmed the departure of its top administrator, Jim Shank.

After one year with the district, Shank’s resignation follows his unsuccessful bid for a superintendent job with Longview School District two months ago. His exodus continues a string of instability in the chief educator position in North Beach.

It’s unclear after the meeting how the district will approach the superintendent vacancy for the 2024/2025 school year, with Shank’s last day looming June 28.

With the two resigning board members absent from Tuesday’s meeting, board President Jeff Albertson said Shank served with “distinction,” then read a 13-minute statement detailing the hostile environment that he said all three resigning members confirmed was their motivation for leaving.

“I’ll speak very plainly about the reason for this — it’s the same basic reason in all three instances,” Albertson said at the outset.

“We have a group of individuals, very small in number but persistent in their approach, whose conduct and speech are responsible for the unspeakably hostile climate that is causing these departures,” Albertson said.

Albertson listed and took objection to the numerous ways he said members of the small group acted, including frequently filing complaints about employees and asking that they be fired or contracts not renewed. He said the group had frequently questioned the integrity of Shank and school board members, and “orchestrated attempts to reorganize board leadership with the aim of removing me as board president, which efforts have been soundly rejected by a supermajority of the board.”

Albertson said he had never gaveled any of the constituents during public comment period and the district had fulfilled recurring public records requests from the group to the best of its ability.

Albertson said he initially listened to the group when he came into office in January 2023 but that he “no longer holds the opinion that these individuals are acting in good faith or that their aims are consistent with the students and staff of the North Beach School District.”

Albertson said he wanted to focus on the myriad of upcoming challenges facing the district: crafting a budget in a difficult fiscal climate, negotiate expiring labor agreements, significant capital facility needs and continued recovery from pandemic learning deficits.

“If instead you want to focus on distractions, personal grievances, the re-litigation of past animosities, imagined slights, and drawing half-informed, instant conclusions that our educators and our leadership are operating in corrupt and nefarious intent, there is a place for you, too. I will listen to you, for three minutes, once per month, for the next three and a half years,” Albertson said as he concluded the statement, referring to the three-minute public comment period at monthly board meetings.

Shank, who submitted his official letter of resignation April 11, did not offer a follow-up to the statement Tuesday evening. In an email, Shank said his reasons for resignation are “personal.” He said he gave consent to Albertson to read the portion of the statement concerning him prior to Tuesday’s board meeting.

“In my 33 years of experience as an educator and 15 years as a superintendent, I know that how we treat one another is foundational to institutional and student success,” Shank said Wednesday. “Positive voices and relationships promote teaching and learning.”

When asked by The Daily World about reasons for resigning, Farris said in a Wednesday email that “the stress of many moving parts and very strong differences of opinion or lack of understanding was something I didn’t want to engage in any further.”

Farris, who was elected in 2021, said there are “two sides of the coin” to the situation and praised the community members targeted in the statement, highlighting their years of volunteer work, hours of coaching and mentoring, and donations to student programs.

“The ‘community members’ mentioned in the meeting last night also played a vital role in the fabric of our educational environment by uncovering critical information that led to significant changes within our district,” Farris said.

Doering could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He was appointed to the District 5 seat in 2023, then lost a reelection bid later that year to an opponent who was precluded from the race because of employment with the district. Doering was reappointed in 2024 when the seat became vacant.

Board member Joe Lomedico, who took office this year, pushed back on Albertson’s statement, saying that while he did not agree with everything the group has said, he felt that “attacking the people that elected us is disgusting to me, when we should be taking responsibility.”

He said Shank got stuck with personnel issues that should have been dealt with before his arrival.

“Things were covered up, things were not dealt with properly, and it exploded and ended up on your lap,” he said.

Lomedico, who brought a motion to reorganize the board at a previous meeting, said he did so because he did not trust Albertson, and the move did not come at the request of a constituent.

During the public comment period, several people who were implied in the statement also pushed back.

Joe Devore, who was named in the statement, called Albertson “the arsonist that complains when there’s a fire,” claiming the board president had himself initiated investigations into district staff.

Devore said his most recent interactions with officials were cordial. He said he did not have a relationship with Doering.

Another commenter, Shannon Rubin, complained that Albertson had identified her in the statement by referencing an email from a resident of Mississippi, where Rubin said she lived. The email criticized Shank for seeking the Longview job, calling both his application and Albertson’s letter of recommendation for Shank the “ultimate betrayal for a community that was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt.”

Rubin said the email was taken out of context because it was part of a longer conversation where she prodded Shank to move forward with an investigation that began in January, and she was growing frustrated with a lack of action.

“Basically, now that things don’t suit you, you want to throw us all under the bus,” Rubin told Albertson.

The resignations were not discussed again after the public comment period ended.

According to Tuesday’s consent agenda, the board also approved five other staff resignations from various positions, including the North Beach Junior/Senior High Principal Miriam Ransom.

After the two board resignations, the remaining board — Albertson, Lomedico, Steve Rocky and a student member — has enough members to constitute a quorum and take official action.

On Tuesday the board directed district staff to begin soliciting applications for District 3, which are due May 17 at 5 p.m. Albertson said interested parties should email him by that deadline to express their interest. The board anticipates filling the vacancy at its May 21 regular meeting.

The board will then repeat that process for the District 5 seat.

Reduction in force

Staffing cuts could be on the horizon for North Beach after the board gave Shank the authority to include a “reduction in force” in a plan to reduce costs.

Shank said the district needs to reduce spending by $374,000 before the start of next school year.

“When you’re in an imbalanced budget situation, it’s important to walk the steps that are necessary in order for you to balance your budget,” he said Tuesday.

The plan to cut costs will be presented at a special board meeting on April 30.

Shank said authorizing the reduction in force is “there because we can, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to. We’ll do everything that we possibly can to retain our staff members’ positions. That’s my first priority and my commitment to do so.”

Capital levy

The board unanimously approved sending a small levy to the ballot in August that would pay for technology improvements across the district.

If approved in the Aug. 6 primary election, North Beach property owners would pay an additional $0.08 per $1,000 of assessed value in school district property taxes for the next four years. That would result in about $300,000 per year.

The levy would cost about $20 per year for the owner of a home worth $250,000.

According to a resolution approved by the district, the levy would pay for installing or upgrading computers, software, classroom tech, audio and video equipment, and other systems. The money could also pay for new technology trainings, upgrades to technology facilities and other district facilities as determined by the board.

The district will be seeking voters to form “for” and “against” committees to produce ballot statements for the August election.

Contact Reporter Clayton Franke at 406-552-3917 or

Kristin Farris
Robert Doering