by Mike Knaak
Sartell-St. Stephen school board members expect to narrow the superintendent search to five or six candidates at a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 1, at the high school.
At that meeting, the board will review a list of applicants compiled by the search consultants, School Exec Connect, and select candidates for initial interviews.
If that slate is approved, the board will conduct one-hour interviews starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 2, and Wednesday, March 3.
At the end of the March 3 session, board members will select two or three finalists. Each finalist will spend a day in the district on Monday, March 8, Wednesday, March 10, and if there is a third candidate, Thursday, March 11.
Community members are invited to attend the open session with the finalists at 5 p.m. March 8, 10 and 11 at the Sartell High School Performing Arts Center. Community members can also attend the community session via Zoom.
The board will conduct final interviews with each finalist at 7:15 p.m. each evening at Sartell High School.
Following the last finalist’s interview on March 10 or 11, the board will discuss the candidates and hope to select one as the next superintendent.
All meetings can be found on the district website – www.sartell.k12.mn.us/schoolboard.
Board member Jason Nies outlined the search’s final steps at a school board meeting Feb. 22. Current Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert announced he plans to retire at the end of June after serving the district for seven years. The board hopes to make an offer and have the new superintendent selected by mid March.
With all students back to in-person learning, Schwiebert said the district “turned a bit of a corner.”
Human Resources Director Krista Durrwachter reported the majority of school staff received the second vaccine dose. She said the school will continue the policy of a 14-day quarantine for any student who comes in contact with a positive case. Durrwachter said that St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids-Rice districts are continuing the 14-day policy too.
Sticking with the 14-day quarantine will keep students in school with the goal of no one getting sick, Schwiebert and Durrwachter said.
Schwiebert said some of the anxiety of returning to in-person classes has gone away.
As of Feb. 14, the district reported nine positive COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days and 389 COVID-19-related absences over the same period among the district’s 4,232 students. One staff member reported a positive case, and there were 25 staff absences in the previous 14 days among the district’s 518 employees.
With initial registration for the 2021-22 school year underway, administrators are setting staff levels. Schwiebert said the district expects to add 2.5 positions in pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade buildings. At the high school, next year’s ninth-grade class will be 30 students larger than this year’s departing seniors.
While other districts have seen COVID-19-related enrollment drops, Schwiebert said, “we still grew. We’re in good shape in comparison to other areas.”