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Low turnout to discuss what Brainerd community wants in its next superintendent

It was a low turnout Tuesday at the Brainerd High School, where community members were given a chance to talk about what they’d like to see in the school district’s next superintendent.

The Brainerd School Board hired School Exec Connect, an Illinois-based firm specializing in placing school leaders in districts, to look for 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.

Bob Ostlund and Charles Kyte of School Exec Connect spoke at several meetings Tuesday with focus groups consisting of district office administrators, building administrators, certified and non-certified staff, students, community leaders, parent leaders, community education and seniors to allow them to voice their opinions on what kind of superintendent they’d like to see hired.

At the night community meeting, there were around eight people in attendance with a majority of the people being school teachers or retired school teachers.

Connie Lyscio, a teacher at Baxter Elementary School, is hoping that more people filled out the district’s online survey. The survey is where people can let the district know what the three most important skills/characteristics they’d like to see in the next superintendent and what they’d like the board to ask the candidates as they select a superintendent.

“It’s disappointing that there is nobody here,” said Lyscio. “We need to connect with the community.”

Lyscio said that there are two things the consultants need to look for in a superintendent for Brainerd. She said people are book smart or have an emotional attachment to the school and the district needs a superintendent who can relate to both types of people.

“The emotional people won’t be impressed with someone who has all the degrees, they want someone who can relate to them,” said Lyscio.

Ostlund said having a low turnout is not always bad. He said a low-turn out could mean that there is no big crisis in the community for people to show up at the meeting.

Dale Kuglin of Brainerd said what is concerning to him about the turnout is he believes that people don’t know what a superintendent’s job is. He also said if the district called a meeting to hire a new football coach, that the cafeteria would have been full.

Kuglin said whoever the district hires as a superintendent, he hopes that the person knows they are coming to a rich culture of people who love Brainerd.

Karen Schirmer, who retired as a teacher at Riverside Elementary School, said the district needs a superintendent who is willing to listen and communicate well with staff at all levels in the district and to appreciate their work.

School Exec Connect will bring the information they gathered at the meetings and through the online survey to the school board on March 4. Then on March 31, the candidates for the position will be presented. In April the first and final rounds of interviews will be conducted.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851. Follow on Twitter at