Community members will get the opportunity to meet all four Brainerd superintendent finalists April 25 and may sit in on the interviews with board members April 26.
The Brainerd School Board Personnel Committee met Thursday and finalized plans for the candidates' visits and interviews. Finalists are Jerry Kjergaard, Waconia; John Longtin, Eagan; Todd Lyscio, Baxter; and Steve Razidlo, Brainerd.
At 11 a.m. April 25, the four finalists will meet at Washington Educational Services Building to go on a school district tour. They'll travel together in a district van, along with a few board members, heading first to Harrison Elementary School for lunch. Other stops will include visits to the Brainerd School District Learning Center, Riverside Elementary, Forestview Middle School, Brainerd High School and BHS South Campus before returning to Washington around 3:10 p.m.
From 7- 9 p.m. April 25, a community/staff meet-and-greet with the candidates will take place at the Forestview cafetorium. While the event is expected to be informal, each candidate will be given a few minutes at 7 p.m. to introduce themselves, give a short bio and explain why they're interested in the position. Then each candidate will be made available at separate ends of the cafetorium and community members may stop by, ask them questions or just get to know them.
Board members discussed whether spouses should be invited to attend the community meet-and-greet event. They decided that they would be invited to attend but it was not an expectation for fear the spouses would feel they were being interviewed, too.
Interviews will take place between 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 26 in the school district board room with brief breaks between the four interviews. While the public is allowed to watch these interviews, which will last about an hour for each candidate, only board members will ask questions. Board members were to e-mail their questions to board member Kent Montgomery by Monday and he will compile a list for the interviews. The same questions will be asked of each candidate.
After the interviews are completed on April 26, the board will continue to meet and likely make a decision on whom they wish to offer the position.
The finalists and their spouses, including the internal candidates if they so choose, will stay at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa Friday night with the option of staying Saturday night if they wish. The four rooms were donated by Mark Ronnei of Grand View Lodge, and board members expressed gratitude for Ronnei's offer at Thursday's committee meeting.
Board members also discussed other criteria for evaluating each candidate. Three of the four online exams have been completed by the finalists; one candidate was out of town and unable to complete the personality-type exam by Thursday. Board members, advised by school attorney Tom Fitzpatrick, said the results of those exams would not be made public but forwarded to all board members as soon as all four exams are completed.
Board chair Reed Campbell asked if a financial background check, such as checking credit scores, would be a possibility with the four finalists. Board members discussed the idea but decided to not make a decision. They may ask for such a request of the final candidate as part of the routine background check but not all four candidates since they were not told upfront that this was a possibility.
Superintendent Jerry Walseth said it seemed to be too invasive, even for a public official, and opposed the idea. He said if a superintendent's credit score became public, no matter what number it is, it would place him under additional undue public scrutiny.
"I understand I'm a public candidate and I understand I'm going to receive public criticism," said Walseth. "I understand I'm evaluated in public but at what point do I have a right to a private life? Whether it's this position or the position of city administrator or county administrator, these positions are tough enough. ... I just think the next superintendent in this school district will only be able to walk on water six months out of the year. Please don't make him walk on water for 12 months."
"I think the character of the candidate will really come out in the interview and when we check references," said board member Bob Nystrom.
The board then met in closed session Thursday to consider strategy for negotiating the new superintendent contract.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5858.
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