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Brainerd School Board approves Hahn’s superintendent contract

The three-year contract runs from July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2025.

Heidi Hahn speaks in front of a group of people
Brainerd Assistant Superintendent Heidi Hahn speaks in front of a group of community members Tuesday, April 12, 2022, as part of her interview to be the district's next superintendent.
Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — Heidi Hahn is officially on board to be superintendent of Brainerd Public Schools for the next three years.

School Board members Monday, May 9, approved a contract with Hahn for the 2022-23, 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years, beginning July 1 and lasting through June 30, 2025.

In the contract

Under the contract, Hahn will earn $178,500 for the first year, $182,070 for the second year and $185,711 for the third year. The salary will be paid in 12 equal installments and may be modified but not reduced. The wages for the second and third years represent a 2% increase from the previous year and are the same wages current Superintendent Laine Larson earned during her last three years with the district.

Benefits include 30 days of paid vacation during the first year and 27 days each of the next two years; 10 paid holidays; accrual of one paid sick day for every working month; a $50 monthly cellphone reimbursement; and paid mileage for business use of a personal vehicle.

School Board members will oversee, direct and evaluate Hahn’s performance as superintendent as they see fit.

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Board thoughts

Though originally advocating for a different candidate for the superintendent job, board member Kevin Boyles said Monday he could not be happier Hahn accepted the job.

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As of Friday afternoon, Hahn could not be reached for comment but had not publicly accepted the position.

“My main reason for supporting Mr. Schneider was that I felt it would give the district an opportunity for a certain amount of grace and a certain amount of a honeymoon period to allow progress on certain things that I felt that maybe we'd be challenged with,” Boyles said.

But with Heidi soon to assume the role, Boyles said he hopes the community will allow her the same grace period.

“I believe that Dr. Hahn not only will benefit from that support, I believe that she deserves that support. And she has it from me without equivocation,” he said. “I’m delighted to vote for this contract.”

Public forum criticism

During Monday’s public forum ahead of approving the contract, two parents criticized the deliberation process board members went through to ultimately choose Hahn, noting manipulative tactics and body language, nitpicking candidates’ mannerisms, board members discounting others’ experiences, basing the decision on emotions and personal relationships rather than what was best for the district.

“For clarification, I’m not saying that Heidi Hahn was not a good fit for that sort of position; however, the decision to hire her should have been based on more than just her history and personal relationships with the board, which the discussion was largely surrounding,” said parent George Washington Jr. “... My hope for board members is that they will fight for all our children, regardless of race, disability or other differences. All of our children are important, none more than the next.”

While noting her criticism of the deliberation process and how student input was used in the process, parent Susanna Lamusga also thanked the board for allowing community members to be a part of the interview process and ask the candidates their own questions. She added she was ashamed that only about nine residents out of the entire district attended the meetings, as it is their responsibility to be involved.

Board members deliberated for more than three hours April 14, after three days of interviews with the top three candidates. For most of the night, board members were locked in a tie, with three advocating for Hahn, the district’s current assistant superintendent, and three advocating for Eric Schneider, the chief academic officer for Chicago-based education company EdIncites. Board Chair Ruth Nelson ultimately changed her vote at the end of the meeting, joining Jana Shogren, Charles Black Lance and Sarah Speer in their support of Hahn.

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THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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