School board searches for permanent Superintendent

Brady Lau

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Photo by Brady Lau

Interim Superintendent Malinda Lansfeldt speaks to the board about FFA club. She may run for the position again this spring.

The school board is appointing a permanent superintendent for interim Superintendent Malinda Lansfeldt’s position. Over the coming months, the board will be accepting applications and evaluating candidates until they begin serving their term on July 1. The candidate must be prepared to face current and future challenges presented by the ever-growing and changing district.

The job of a superintendent consists of taking action to fulfill the board’s goals set for the district. Over the past few years, the board has honed its focus on various community issues. One such example would be the renewal of the levy, which provided teachers with a minor revenue boost and the other, which met the growing technology demand by supplying schools with extra devices.

“Superintendents focus on the management of a district while the School Board focuses on governing through policy,” Vice-Chair Katie Hockert added. “They definitely work closely together to ensure the strategic goals are being met and to evaluate and reevaluate the direction of the district.”

The process of searching for a new candidate varies with each board that appoints them. The current board has opted to enlist the aid of the Minnesota School Boards Association. This comes in consideration of the fact that the board themselves do not believe they are qualified to appoint the next superintendent given that their role is more about governance and oversight.

Chair Alison Sherman states that the MSBA is there to facilitate the process of selecting candidates. They will be evaluating interviews, screening applications, and gathering feedback from the community.

Graphic by Charli Burdick-Kitchell

The board has released a timeline of events on their page of the Stillwater Area Public Schools Website. There they provide the community with key dates of the selection process. The application deadline is March 13. By March 24 they will have determined the finalits. Both rounds of interviews will occur in late March and early April. On April 14, the board will meet to approve the contract. In another two and a half months, the appointed superintendent’s service will officially begin.

The board is handling many issues the district is being faced with as of late, more prominently the remaining effects of COVID-19. Not only is the district facing problems within itself, but with its neighbors as well. The board not only tackles its own problems but attempts to provide aid and work with other districts that may need it.

Josiah Hill, St. Croix Education Association President explained that some other challenges will include “finding ways to help legislative leaders understand why investment is key in our young people” and that it is so critically needed.

During the application evaluation and interview processes, the board and MSBA will not only be considering the problems the community is facing currently, but what they will encounter years from now as well. There is a large growth in the student population in the Lake Elmo area that the district can’t sustain in its current form. To solve issues such as that, the candidate must possess an ability to put systems in place that achieve goals and visions as well as an ability to articulate those visions.

In response to Oakland Middle School breaching its capacity, Sherman said, “We did some short boundary changes this year which will give us a little bit of time, but eventually the school board and the permanent superintendent are going to have to address those faculty issues.”

In order to truly address all the issues the district is facing, the board and MSBA need members of the community, specifically students and families, to give their input on what the superintendent must know and be prepared to tackle upon appointment. With this much-needed information, the district can better address the problems the “consumers” are facing. Students and families can give their input in the online survey as well as a virtual question and answer session taking place at 4 p.m. on Feb. 1.

Sherman comments on the number of responses received so far, “There’s never enough feedback. As the ‘consumer’ of the service we provide, students’ opinions are invaluable.”