SAUK RAPIDS -- The new chair of the Sauk Rapids-Rice School Board is excited to tackle the district's to-do list in his first shot in his new role.

Ryan Butkowski was made board chair Monday night. He's in his third year on the council and excited to get to work on some big tasks.

Butkowski says the first check needs to be getting the new administration settled. He says the district is ready for some consistent, strong leadership.

"Everyone's ready to move forward. Everyone's ready for strong leadership and direction. Over the past two years, since Dr. Bittman resigned, there's been a bit of a holding pattern."

He says a few things were put on backburners while the district focused on another referendum last year under interim Superintendent Bruce Watkins. On a long list, one of the things Butkowski wants to focus on is student achievement.

"Student achievement is important. And that's something we're looking hard at, why has there been a decline in test scores lately, and how are we going to shore that up."

Elsewhere, he says a big task is Pleasantview Elementary, among other facilities across Sauk Rapids-Rice. Butkowski says the first referendum two years ago showed strong support to fix the issues with Pleasantview, and it needs to be addressed soon.

Ensuring students are prepared for different paths in life is also important to the new chair. Butkowski says that means making sure to help kids whose paths may take them outside a four-year university.

The board also sat new member Lisa Loidolt after last year's election and set their 2019 compensation for the board chair and board members.

New this year, the board will be holding meetings in different spots throughout the district, in the hopes more people can attend each meeting.

More From AM 1240 WJON