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7 to be interviewed for Brainerd superintendent position

Klint Willert1 / 4
Larry Guggisberg2 / 4
Ron Wilke3 / 4
Scott Monson4 / 4

Seven people will be interviewed this week for the superintendent position at the Brainerd School District.

At a special Brainerd School Board meeting Monday, the group met with School Exec Connect consultants Charlie Kyte and Toni Johns to hear the proposed candidates in finding a replacement for current Superintendent Steve Razidlo.

Razidlo announced his resignation effective at the end of the school year. He accepted a three-year contract as superintendent at The American International School in Vienna, Austria.

School Exec Connect, an Illinois-based firm that specializes in placing school leaders in districts, is heading the search for his replacement.

The candidates are:

• Ron Wilke, superintendent at La Crescent-Hokah Public Schools, Minnesota.

• Chris Sonju, superintendent of Glencoe/Silver Lake schools, Minnesota.

• Deidre Wells, superintendent, Inver Grove Heights Community Schools, Minnesota.

• Chris Hines, deputy superintendent, Conroe Independent School District, Texas.

• Scott Monson, superintendent, Morris Area Schools, Minnesota.

• Klint Willert, superintendent, Marshall Public Schools, Minnesota.

• Larry Guggisberg, superintendent, Roseau Community School, Minnesota.

At Monday’s meeting, Kyte and Johns first read short biographies about each of the candidates, without saying their names. After the school board voted to accept the group, the names were revealed.

School Board member Tom Haglin was absent.

“All of them really pretty well fit the profile you developed,” Kyte said.

To find out what type of superintendent is wanted, School Exec Connect recently gathered feedback from school and district staff, a community meeting, 556 online surveys and 11 focus groups of community leaders. With that information, the group combed through applications and sought out potential candidates themselves.

There were 24 applicants who applied for the position. Of those, eight are already superintendents elsewhere, while others had positions as a principal, professor, executive directors or deputy/assistant superintendent.

Seventeen applicants came from Minnesota, while others came from Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, North Dakota and Illinois.

“We have seven good candidates here and we thought we should expose you to all of them,” Kyte said.

Hour-long interviews with each candidate are Wednesday and Thursday. The first interview Wednesday is at 5 p.m., with another three following it. The first interview Thursday is at 5:30 p.m., with another two following it. The interviews are open to the public.

A second round of daylong interviews will be conducted April 7, 8 and 9 for the final three candidates.

By the end of April, the board will vote for its top choice. Come July 1, the new superintendent is expected to take over the post.

JESSICA LARSEN may be reached at or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at