Brainerd High School activities director Todd Selk submitted his resignation from School District 181 to Superintendent Steve Razidlo this week.
Selk, activities director for 12 years, said he’s resigning, effective June 30, due to a family medical situation that required him to be out of state for extended periods of time. Selk said he has yet to secure other employment but is pursuing opportunities in the Spokane, Wash., area.
In an email to the Dispatch late Wednesday, Selk said it was likely that the same travel would have been necessary again next school year.
“Though we put extra help in place for when I was gone, in the end both the superintendent and I believed new leadership in the activities department was what was needed, someone that would be on site the entire school year,” Selk wrote.
“This resignation will allow me to join my wife and family and be the husband and father I need to be and desire to be.”
Razidlo said in a phone interview Thursday that he supports Selk’s decision.
“Todd has given great service for 12 years to Brainerd extracurricular and activities programs,” Razidlo said. “I think he’s leaving a great legacy of achievement and support for extracurricular experiences that add tremendous value, fun and memories to the student experience for so many kids.
“Todd is going to be missed. But I’m happy for him in that he’s going to be closer to family. In the important times of our lives, when we need to be attending to our families, I’m glad he has chosen that path.”
In his email, Selk thanked various individuals and groups, including former Superintendent Bob Gross for the opportunity to lead the department, his coaching staff, students who participated in programs, the Brainerd Sports Boosters Club, local media, the administration and school board, parents and community, along with his office staff, led by Kathy Sullivan.
In a phone interview Thursday, Selk said he was proud of his department’s ability to save and maintain extracurricular programs following failure of a November 2007 referendum.
“The proposal was to go from 29 (athletic) programs to 12,” he said. “That would have been devastating for our student body and for our community. The ability to work with a passionate group of community members, and figure out a way to keep our programs ... that we not only kept all athletic programs but we kept all activity programs, that is probably the most major event (in his tenure).
“We really turned upside down how we fund athletics and activity programs. And, we had to do it literally from the November (referendum) failure to about April 1, less than a school year for sure, in order that we could continue as is. It’s one thing to keep programs but not skipping a beat in our level of success, and our level of participation, was important.”
Other highlights of his tenure, Selk said, were the opportunity to work with a “wonderful coaching staff.”
“We lost some of those people over the last 12 years,” he said, “but we’ve been able to hire and replace the people we lost, and I will stand by those hires forever. We have good people leading our programs. They’re not only solid in their sport expertise, they’re also solid people.”
Selk said the opportunity to interact with and build relationships with his coaching staff a was one of the joys of his job.
“That piece for me is most important,” he said. “The relationships with those people was the most important thing I do and have. It’s also the most enjoyable thing I do.”
Selk said possibly the most frustrating event during his tenure was the referendum failure and that it forced activity fees to significantly increase. He said he’s concerned about the Warrior Way funding program that helps students and families in need lessen activity fees.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” he said. “One of the most significant things we did was figure out a way to keep all that, but it came at the expense of high participation fees.
“I’m concerned about sustainability. When Warrior Way phases itself out what’s going to help those families that depend on getting help from Warrior Way? That money is going to run out. When it does, what will be the plan to help those families? The fees, as they stand today, without any assistance, that will keep kids from participating.”
Selk said a professional highlight was the opportunity to be a member of the Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors for four years, and eventually be its president.
“I look at that, certainly, as a great personal experience but it also gave me a chance to represent Brainerd at the state level, resulting in networking done there, which I believe only helped (Brainerd’s) program,” he said.
In May, after discussions with Razidlo, Selk decided it would be best to resign as activities director. Razidlo said the tentative plan was to reassign Selk within the district, to provide support and assistance between the Area Education and the Lincoln Education centers.
“We were exploring how that role might work, how it might work for our benefit and for helping Todd utilize his skills,” Razidlo said. “We had that as a tentative move because we knew that possibly Todd might find something and leave us.”
Razidlo said the vacancy has been posted, a few candidates have been interviewed and he hopes to replace Selk as soon as possible. Razidlo added that Selk has offered to assist with the transition to a new activities director.
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.