by Dennis Dalman
Public input is being requested by the Sartell-St. Stephen School Board in its search for a new superintendent.
The board wants input from residents so it can better plan as it proceeds with the superintendent selection process.
Following the survey, its results will be presented by the Minnesota School Boards Association to the Sartell-St. Stephen School Board.
Residents/stakeholders can take an anonymous online survey now through Jan. 15. They can also get hard copies of the survey at the District Service Center building or at any school in Sartell. After respondents fill out the surveys, they should be returned to the District Service Center or to one of the school buildings by Jan. 15. The survey questions are available in English, Somali and Spanish.
Another public-input opportunity took place on Dec. 18 during a Zoom question-and-answer meeting sponsored by the Minnesota School Boards Association.
To access the survey online, go to:
The survey gives respondents choices of what they think are the six most important personal characteristics in a superintendent from a list of 17 characteristics – among them Confident, Honest and Ethical, Problem Solver, Transparent.
Another question asks respondents to choose six of the top areas of expertise a superintendent should demonstrate. Among the 17 choices are Collaborative Leadership, Curriculum Development/Evaluation, Personnel Management, Technology.
Yet another question requests respondents to choose six (from among nearly 30 options) of the most important traits or skills the next superintendent should possess. Among them are the following:
A “people person” with proven abilities in human relations and communications.
Develops trust and works collaboratively with diverse groups of stakeholders.
Understands the effects of poverty on student learning and achievement.
Follows the school board’s chosen educational philosophy which reflects the community’ values.
The survey asks respondents to comment on the following questions:
What are some of the good things taking place in Sartell-St. Stephen public schools today?
What challenges do you see ahead for the district over the next five years?
What does the superintendent need to know about the history of the school district and community in order to be successful?
Timeframe for search
The contract with current interim superintendent Tom Lee will expire at the end of June 2024. Lee replaced the previous superintendent, Jeff Ridlehoover, who resigned last year to take the superintendent job for Rockford Area Schools. Ridlehoover had served the Sartell-St. Stephen School District from July 2021 to March 2023. Lee accepted the interim job in May 2023.
The school district will accept applications from candidates for the superintendent position until Tuesday, Feb. 13. Then the school board will do the first round of interviews with semi-finalists on Monday, Feb. 26. After another round of interviews, finalists will be selected on Wednesday, March 6 and Thursday, March 7. The finalists will then be interviewed on Monday, March 11. A superintendent contract is expected to be approved by the school board on Monday, March 18.
The superintendent search process is being assisted by the Minnesota School Boards Association.