Board will interview interim superintendent candidates Friday

Chuck Kajer, Managing Editor

Six candidates for the position of interim superintendent will interview with the New Prague Area School Board Friday, and by the end of the day the board hopes to have a candidate to lead the district during the 2006-07 school year.

Norm Miller, superintendent search consultant, was at Monday's meeting of the New Prague Area School Board. He had a list of seven candidates for the interim position who had expressed interest in taking the New Prague job on an interim basis, and at least two of them also had long-term aspirations for the job. One of the seven was interested in a part-time position, and most board members agreed that they were not interested in a part-time position. Three of the candidates have ties to the New Prague School District

The six candidates will be interviewed at the School District Business Office, beginning at 7:30 a.m. They are:

Anthony Boyer - Superintendent of Le Center schools. Boyer retired two years ago, and was hired back by the district on a part-time basis. Boyer spent two years as principal at New Prague High School in the mid-1990s.

Steve Bruchman - Longtime administrator in the New Prague School District. Bruchman has served as curricular coordinator, interim assistant high school principal and his current position as director of community services since coming to New Prague in the early 1990s. He has also been acting superintendent since early July.

Dr. Craig Hintz - Deputy Superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools, former assistant superintendent in Minnetonka and a former superintendent in Indiana. He was one of six candidates who interviewed for the vacant superintendent job last month, but was not chosen as a finalist.

James Rouse - Former Superintendent and principal in the Mankato Area Catholic Schools and Sioux City, IA, Catholic Schools. He has spent the last three years working in the private sector.

James Smith - Former superintendent in St. Francis and Westonka schools, who served as interim superintendent in the Osseo Schools in 2004-05.

Dr. Robert Stepaniak - Former superintendent in New Prague (1993-1999) and North Branch (1999-2005). Stepaniak worked in New Prague from 1975-1999, starting as assistant high school principal, then high school principal and superintendent.

The district has been looking since spring for a successor to Dr. Frankie Poplau, who left the district after 12 years, the last seven as superintendent. The board interviewed six candidates in July and had three of them back for a second interview. Over the course of two weeks, the board offered the position to each of the three finalists, and each turned down the position.

Board members asked Miller what happened in the search, if the board had started its search too late in the game. Miller said that was possible, but he thought the reasons were more due to the depth of the candidate pool. There is a shortage of superintendent candidates with experience. He said in one case, the candidate stayed in his community because of a show of community support, in another, the candidate's wife had a good job that would have been difficult to leave and the other declined due to family considerations.

He speculated that the process may have been too open. Sometimes that scares people. They don't want their name out their so early in the game. It gives us a number of things to think about.

Miller was asked when the board should start up its search for a permanent replacement. He said they should start advertising in December and begin interviewing in January.


Also at Monday's meeting:

• Operations Director Tim Rybak updated board members on school construction projects.

• Phase I of the high school project is complete, with Hesselton Construction finishing the grading and parking lot work ahead of schedule. A pre-bid meeting for Bid Package 2 was held last week. That package includes footings and steel work, and will be let at the end of August. Rybak noted that the new parking lot will not be used by teachers and staff this year, but will be a staging and parking area for contractors.

• Raven Stream Elementary in New Prague is nearly complete, with teachers scheduled to tour the building August 23. The district was given temporary occupancy of the second floor in early August and of the first floor on Monday. We've started our punch list items and materials are being moved in. He said members of some of the fall sports teams were scheduled to help move boxes into the building on Tuesday.

• Eagle View Elementary in New Market is still slated for a mid-October opening. He said custodians are putting in the playground

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