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Brainerd School Board: Superintendent search update

Interested applicants have already started sending in their resumes to be considered as the next superintendent of Brainerd Public Schools. Interim Superintendent Bob Gross started July 1. Gross came on board after former superintendent Klint Wil...

Interested applicants have already started sending in their resumes to be considered as the next superintendent of Brainerd Public Schools.

Interim Superintendent Bob Gross started July 1. Gross came on board after former superintendent Klint Willert took the superintendent position for the Brookings School District in South Dakota. Willert, who started as Brainerd superintendent in July of 2014, announced his resignation in May. His last day was June 30.

At its Nov. 9 meeting, the Brainerd School Board decided to officially post the job listing for a permanent superintendent. School Exec Connect, a consultant company which helped the district find and hire Willert, is helping the district conduct its current search.

Tuesday, meeting as the Curriculum Committee, board members got an update on the recently started search from Ken Dragseth with School Exec Connect. Speaking via a Skype video call, Dragseth told the committee the posting with the Minnesota School Board Association and the Minnesota Association of School Administrators had already generated some applications.

The company is also recruiting certain candidates to get them to throw their hats in the ring, Dragseth said. The deadline to apply is Jan. 19, and the company will provide information on the candidates to the board prior to interviewing four to six finalists over two nights in February.

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After those interviews, the board will narrow down the field to two to three finalists who will then each come to the district for an all-day interview. The candidate would tour the district and sit in focus group meetings with staff and students. There would also be an open community forum and a final interview following dinner.

Groups meeting with the candidates would also fill out feedback forms on the candidates. They would provide feedback on how the candidate meets the district's requirements and can also provide questions they'd like the board to ask the candidates.

After those final interviews, if there's a joint consensus supporting one candidate, School Exec Connect can then begin negotiating with that candidate, Dragseth said.

"Then we would help make sure the contract is settled and eventually come to the board for final resolution," Dragseth said.

The tentative schedule for the search is as follows:

• Present four to six finalists to the school board at its Feb. 8 meeting.

• Interview the four to six finalists Feb. 11-12.

• Hold final interviews with two to three finalists on Feb. 16-18.

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Board member Bob Nystrom said last year he thought there wasn't a lot of good superintendent candidates available. He asked Dragseth for his opinion on the pool of superintendent candidates available for this hiring cycle.

The company is recruiting some good candidates who hopefully will apply for the position, Dragseth said. The pool of superintendent candidates is shrinking in Minnesota, he said, but Brainerd is still in a good position.

"For a district like yours and the opportunity to get somebody that really wants to come to a larger district I think we'll be fine," Dragseth said.

Gross asked Dragseth if there would be any benefit to shortening the application period and ending it before Jan. 19.

"I don't know of any searches that are going on right now, other than real small districts," Dragseth responded. "So I think we're fine."

Nystrom said many candidates will consider the vacancy over the Christmas break, and might not make a decision to apply until after the holidays.

"We'll keep you up to speed as we go along the process," Dragseth said. "So you understand what's happening."

SPENSER BICKETT may be reached at 218-855-5859 or spenser.bickett@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/spenserbickett .

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