Feb 21, 2013 at 9:51 pm
ST. CLOUD, Minn. (KNSI) - Two candidates are off the table, and the St. Cloud Public School system is less than a week away from welcoming their next superintendent.
After several hours of discussion, the District 742 school board whittled their list of five superintendent finalists down to three during a special meeting last night.
The candidates who will be returning for a second interview are Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, the superintendent for Proviso Township High Schools in Forest Park, Illinois, Willie Jett, assistant superintendent for St. Paul schools, and Dr. Michael Funk, superintendent for the Albert Lea school district.
Bob Ostlund is a Senior Associate for School Exec Connect, the consulting firm guiding District 742 through the hiring process. He says the board has taken their role seriously, and are not being hasty in their choosing.
"They're not hiring a superintendent tonight - they're just inviting back three to learn more. Any one could be the next superintendent at this point," Ostlund says. "And the board knows the magnitude of this decision."
During the meeting, Dr. Collins-Hart was described as curriculum-focused and experienced in a highly diverse and challenging school system. She is reported to have served in her current role for 5 years, a district known for rapid turnover.
Jett was touted as a strategic thinker with a fast approach to action, and a strong interest in emmersing himself in the historical and cultural aspects of the school district.
Funk was viewed as a solid manager who supports students' goals equally, whether college-bound or career focused. The board recognized the similarities between Albert Lea and St. Cloud in evaluating Funk, and noted that he has personal connections to the area.
"They feel really good about the slate of candidates left, and we do too," Ostlund says. "Our goal is to give them a good, but difficult choice - and one where they can't go wrong."
The three will now be invited back for day-long interviews either Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, before the board convenes on Wednesday night to select one to enter into contract negotiations for the position.
The district is searching for a replacement for Superintendent Bruce Watkins, who retires at the end of June.