BP Board finalizes supt search
The search for a new superintendent in Blooming Prairie School District 757 has continued to pick up steam with the job being officially posted on Jan. 30.
Current superintendent Barry Olson will retire on June 30.
The job has been posted internally and externally, reports Blooming Prairie School Board Chairman Rodney Krell.
A community informational meeting was held on Monday night, Jan. 28 in the Blooming Prairie High School Media Center.
The meeting drew a sparse representation of the public, only six residents other than the school board of Rodney Krell, Steve Ille, Kelly Braaten, Pam Hameister, Jenny Thurnau and Dean Meshke. School board member John Sunde was not present.
The decision to post the full-time position of superintendent was made by the board at a closed meeting following the Jan. 28 community meeting.
A search process continues with a school board sub-committee of Krell, Braaten and Thurnau picking up the reins and handling the overall search procedure.
The sub-committee of Krell, Braaten and Thurnau met on Jan. 15 with the elementary school staff and on Jan. 17 with the high school staff to solicit input about the search for a superintendent. The Jan. 28 community meeting was the final step before posting the job internally and externally.
Board Chairman Krell told the public in attendance at the Jan. 28 meeting that the job posting expires on Feb. 20. Krell's committee then will review the applications and decide who should be interviewed. Interviews are tentatively planned during the week of Feb. 25.
The board sub-committee will interview superintendent candidates. A public interview session is planned, Krell said, involving the full board and the community. Dates will be announced.
Krell said it is hoped that a new superintendent would be appointed by March 1. Following that step, the board would hopefully approve a new superintendent at its March 18 regular meeting.
The superintendent's position currently held by Barry Olson is part time, .6. The replacement will be full time, thus .4 is added to the position, Krell explained to the public.
"Our student population has grown considerably with the elementary using every space it can including closets and the cafeteria," said Krell.
Chairman Krell said school district growth is sometimes a double-edged sword, meaning that more numbers may equate to quality education and it also may lead to the need to build in the future and that means a bond issue.
Olson is currently under contract with a company approved by the board. The new superintendent will be fully employed by the district, Krell informed.
District resident and former school board member Wayde Bishop asked what type of experience is viewed by the board. "You might get a newbie," responded Krell. The new hire may be a first-time superintendent, possibly coming from the principal ranks, he said.
Bishop said he believed the superintendent should be good at public relations and must have a sound business sense.
"You need a real people person," said local business woman Sue Zwiener.
"We have a quality person at the elementary," interjected district resident Becky Braaten. She was referring to Blooming Prairie Elementary School Principal Chris Staloch. He holds a superintendent's license.
Staloch would be a "win-win" situation for the district, Braaten continued.
Krell agreed that Staloch is an asset to the school district.
Hiring from within also has its negatives, said Wayde Bishop. "It's sometimes like hiring a minister from within," Bishop said. Krell agreed that sometimes someone from the outside may bring new ideas and a different style leadership.
District resident Judy Bishop asked if the new superintendent had to live in the community. Krell said times have changed and superintendents don't always live in the district they serve.
Krell was asked how long a contract the new superintendent would sign. He said it is typically two years.
Board member Ille summarized some of the public concerns and identified strengths they desired. These areas include: visibility, must be a people person, public relations, new initiatives and someone who can balance the stress load.
Some districts hire a firm to coordinate the search and interview process. The board has rejected this approach. "Hiring a head hunter is a waste of money," concurred district resident Mark Larkoski.
"Chris (Mr. Staloch) is a quality guy, and we'd hate to lose him," Zwiener remarked.
"People usually do not spend money to get a superintendent's license if they aren't interested in moving up," Krell said.
"If you are looking at a bond issue down the road, you will have to post the job externally," Bishop said.
Board member Hameister said Staloch is well liked in his current position. "He has proven himself in promoting a new playground," Braaten said. Hameister added that Staloch handled the Harberts tragedy in an admirable manner.
"I assume he (Staloch) has expressed an interest in the position?" Larkoski rhetorically asked. "He has," Krell replied.
Krell thanked the public for its input and said it is the board's goal to do what's best for the kids.