Q Factor: Retiring school chief turned district around

DOLLAR BAY – Dr. Jan Quarless has been a very important part of the improvements in the Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area School, according to two members of the School Board.

Quarless is retiring as DB-TC superintendent as of July 1 after serving in the position since 2004.

Board President Dallas Bond said he’s worked with Quarless – or Q, as the board members call him – for most of Quarless’ time as superintendent.

“Just before I came on the School Board, Q had been hired,” he said.

Bond said at the time Quarless began, the district was in financial trouble with a deficit. Within five years the deficit was eliminated.

“In my opinion, he’s a financial genius,” Bond said. “The state was really putting pressure on districts that were operating in the red.”

Bond said Quarless was able to deal with the difficult actions regarding cuts and wage issues needed to make the district financially viable.

“As superintendent, he had to make tough decisions,” he said. “Now, we’re one of the districts with a surplus.”

The state recommends at least a 17 percent fund equity, Bond said, and the DB-TC district meets that.

Bond said the relationship between a board and a superintendent requires trust, and Quarless has the trust of the board. Board members didn’t have to micromanage him.

Hugh Hosafros has been a member of the board for about 25 years, and he said everything about the district is better because of Quarless.

“We’re excelling in everything,” he said.

Although standardized test scores of students have improved under the guidance of Quarless, Hosafros said improvements can be seen everywhere. The district switched to trimesters several years ago, and that has worked out well for most students. The district’s robotics program has won awards. There has been an increase in high school seniors receiving full scholarships to post-secondary institutions.

When Quarless started as superintendent, Hosafros said, the district had 240 students. Its current enrollment is 340.

Quarless spoke up to state education officials about requirements he thought were unreasonable, Hosafros said.

“He’s constantly trying to get them to improve the way they handle smaller districts,” he said.

Bond said the available superintendent position has been advertised twice. The first time the board asked two applicants for a second interview, but one decided to stay where he was, and the other took another position. The board is taking applications again.

“The candidate we’re looking for has to be a unique fit,” he said. “We’re a small district. Difficult decisions have to be made.”

Bond said Quarless was a special superintendent for the DB-TC district.

“He will be dearly missed,” he said. “He really did some wonderful things for Dollar Bay.”