Four on final list to lead MSD

MARSHALL – Four people have been named finalists for the position of superintendent of Marshall Public Schools.

Current Superintendent Klint Willert, who has been in Marshall for 10 years, was named the new superintendent for the Brainerd School District in early April. The finalists for his replacements are:

Steven Baule, superintendent, North Boone School District, Poplar Grove, Ill.

Lucas DeWitt, director of Elementary Education, Spencer, Iowa

Scott Monson, superintendent, Morris

Patrick Westby, superintendent, West Central Area Schools, Barrett

Marshall School Board Chairman Jeff Chapman said the Marshall School Board had 14 applicants from five states. He said he is impressed with the list of finalists.

“If they’re half as good as their resumes we have a lot of good candidates,” he said. “It’s really exciting. Very qualified people.”

The four finalists were selected by the Marshall School Board after a meeting Monday. They will be interviewed this coming Monday, and the board will likely select the school district’s next superintendent later that day.

The interviews, which will involve advisory teams of faculty and staff members, parents and community members and school administrators, are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

“We’ll have a community group visit with them, an educational group visit with them; they’ll be here in town all day,” Chapman said. “That’s when we can really tell. Like I’ve said to other people, these guys are 4-stars on paper, so we’ll see what they’re like when they really are here.”

Even though two of the finalists are not from Minnesota, Chapman isn’t concerned about hiring someone from out of state, although he said a candidate not from here would have to acclimate himself to a different financial system in Minnesota.

“But you have to remember, we have a great business manager,” he said. “We’re looking at a person’s experience, their knowledge, the way they manage people, the type of management style they have and their years of experience.”

DeWitt was named Iowa’s Elementary Principal of the Year in 2013 by the School Administrators of Iowa, which represents 1,800 school loaders. As director of Elementary Education, he is the principal of Fairview, Johnson and Lincoln elementary schools in the Spencer Community School District. He has been the principal in the district for nine years.

Monson was recently interviewed by the Waconia School Board to fill the superintendent position there. He is in his ninth year as superintendent in Morris.

Westby’s West Central Area Schools serves five communities: Barrett, Elbow Lake, Hoffman, Kensington and Wendell.

North Boone Community Unit School District 200 where Baule presides is a unified school district based in the central region of Boone County in Illinois. Five of the six schools in the district are located there.

“I feel real comfortable with any of these four,” Chapman said. “The top eight were excellent, and it was hard to get it down to four.”

Rick Melmer of Dakota Education Consulting, the group that executed the search and vetted the candidates for the school, said the field of finalists is strong considering three of the four are sitting superintendents and the other supervises multiple schools. He said there was some initial concern with the timing of the search but doesn’t expect that to diminish the quality of candidate the school ultimately goes with.

“It’s a little later than you would like,” Melmer said. “We prefer to have it open in February or March, not May or June. But in spite of the timing, I think we have good candidates, and I fully expect the board to choose one of these four people for their next superintendent.”

Melmer said candidates apply online and send their references, letter of application and resume. The candidates, he said, are expected to answer a variety of questions and provide any background information the board might want to know about.