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Desired characteristics named for next ISD 181 superintendent

The community wants its next superintendent to be a visionary, yet humble leader.

Those are some of the traits spelled out during a special Brainerd School Board meeting Tuesday. The group met with School Exec Connect consultant Charlie Kyte to hear the results of a recent study, which aimed to make a profile in what is needed in the next superintendent.

This is one of the first steps school leaders took in finding a replacement for current Superintendent Steve Razidlo.

Razidlo recently 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, recently gathered feedback from a school and district staff, a community meeting, 556 online surveys and 11 focus groups of community leaders.

Nearly 80 percent of the online responses came from parents and community members.

“These are not scientific, but are fairly accurate,” Kyte said of the results.

Here are some of the key characteristics people said they want in their next superintendent:

• Has a thorough understanding of curriculum, instruction and the assessment process.

• Is a genuine, transparent leader. Is approachable, willing to listen, honest, humble and ethical.

• Becomes an involved, visible community member, and participates in community and school events.

• Is knowledgeable about school finance and can lead the financial planning process.

• Creates and will maintain relationships with post-secondary education, increasing the opportunities for all students in their transition to post-secondary education.

• Approaches issues with a systematic approach, knowing all aspects must be addressed for long-term benefit of the district.

• Excellent communicator; visionary leader.

Kyte said he heard a few people voice a concern that the next superintendent “makes sure educational decisions don’t come from the business office.”

At the meeting Tuesday, the board adopted the presented profile for the next superintendent. That document will be used in School Exec Connect’s search for the new district leader.

School Exec Connect will now complete the recruiting and initial interviewing process. A small pool of candidates will be presented to the Brainerd School Board. The consultants will detail the strengths of each potential candidate.

Still, the consultants will not give their personal opinions on who should be chosen.

The board will interview the top candidates in early April. By the end of April, the board will vote of 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