Community meeting focuses on superintendent search process

NEW ULM – A community meeting Tuesday night capped a series of scheduled meetings with members of the business community, school administrators and school staff, in an effort to determine the attributes the community would like in a new District 88 superintendent.

Incumbent Harold Remme is retiring at the end of this school year, and the School Board recently engaged the South Central Service Cooperative Superintendent Search Program to facilitate the search for a replacement. The district is a member of the co-op, which provides the service free of charge to members. The search is conducted by Ed Waltman, a retired Mankato Superintendent, and Butch Hanson, a retired Fairmont superintendent.

Hanson led Tuesday night’s meeting, which was attended by only one person.

Regardless of the minimal attendance, Hanson explained the stages in the search and recruitment process.

The consultants, engaged Jan. 10, are currently in the process of creating a profile including listing about 10 key attributes the superintendent must possess, through a community engagement process, said Hanson.

They will present a profile report to the Board on Feb. 14, seeking direction on what to look for in the candidates they recruit and screen, either through a Board consensus or through formal Board action.

Through February, the consultants will be accepting applications, recruiting and screening candidates and checking references and other sources that may be familiar with applicant. The deadline to apply for the job, advertised through typical means (the state superintendents’ professional organization, the school boards’ association, colleges and universities) is March 1.

In the next stage of the process, a community interview team of about 10-12 people will alternate with the school board in interviewing about six semi-finalists. The community team will include about four teachers (one representing each of the three school buildings and a specialist; all chosen by the teachers’ union), an administrator and community volunteers. The interviews will last for a full day.

The interviewers will each fill out a feedback form, listing each candidate’s strengths, as well as concerns and comments. Each will also answer the question of whether a candidate deserves further consideration. The Board will use the scoring sheets to narrow the field down to about three finalists.

The finalists will be asked to a final round of interviews, one per day, on March 25, 26 and 27.

On their respective day, each finalist will tour the school buildings with the current superintendent (while their spouse is offered a guided community tour), meet with administrators (who will also fill out a feedback form), then attend a one-hour open community forum at 4 p.m. to introduce themselves and answer questions from the audience. The candidates will round off their day with dinner with the School Board. At the end of the day on March 27, the Board will meet to deliberate their final choice.

This choice should be uncontroversial, reached in a 7-0 or 6-1 vote, Hanson strongly advised. Superintendents do not have tenure, and a candidate is unlikely to take the risk of accepting a position without strong Board support, he explained. The candidate pool is limited, with 25-30 searches underway in the state.

Anyone who would like to help create the profile of attributes can still do so by filling out an online form at (click on the button at the bottom left of the page). A paper form can be obtained from the District 88 office. The form should be submitted preferably by Feb. 8, so the consultants can process the information by Feb. 14.

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