District 11 starts search for new superintendent

Olivia Koester

Staff Writer


Minnesota’s largest school district has started to search for a new superintendent.

The Anoka-Hennepin District 11 School Board will rely heavily on community input when members hire a new superintendent in early 2014.

Dennis Carlson has served as superintendent for close to five years. He came to the district as director of community education in 1986 and was named assistant superintendent in 1995, holding that position until he retired in June 2008.

But he returned to the district as superintendent in January 2009 following Dr. Roger Giroux’s retirement. Carlson plans to retire again June 30, 2014.

The same search firm that presented Carlson as a candidate in 2008, School Exec Connect, will recruit and advertise for candidates this time around.

School Exec Connect is a national search firm, but it is based in the Midwest. One of the reasons the board felt strongly about selecting this firm was the availability of local representatives.

The search is under way for candidates nationwide.

“It’s a pretty fast-paced schedule,” Board Chairperson Tom Heidemann said at the Oct. 14 work session when School Exec Connect associates Ken Dragseth and Toni Johns, both former superintendents, laid out the timeline.

The first few weeks of November, Dragseth and Johns will meet with various community groups to gather information about what qualities they would like to see in a new superintendent.

The public is welcome to attend two public meetings. The first is Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. in the Educational Service Center in Anoka, and the second is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. at Champlin-Brooklyn Park Academy.

Everyone is also welcome to participate in an online survey, available at www.anoka.k12.mn.us/suptsearch until Nov. 18.

In addition to the community meetings, district administrators, teachers, parents, students, community leaders and more will participate in focus groups this month to further refine the profile of Anoka-Hennepin’s ideal superintendent.

School Exec Connect will recruit candidates through January and interviews will begin in February.

After finalists for the position have been selected, each will be invited for an all-day interview process, which will include forums open to staff, students and community members.

The board expects to make a final decision by the Feb. 24 board meeting. Then, a contract can be drawn up and signed in March.

Of the more than 30 searches on which Dragseth has worked, “we’ve never had anybody not sign a contract,” he said.

He credits that to School Exec Connect’s openness with candidates about salary, so although he did not need salary specifics from the board at the work session, he asked for assurances that it would be competitive.

Heidemann said it would be, but reminded Dragseth that Anoka-Hennepin weighs performance pay more than many other districts.

The work session ended on a hopeful note. “It all worked out last time,” said Heidemann, grinning at Carlson.

To follow the search process, visit www.anoka.k12.mn.us/suptsearch.


Contact Olivia Koester at [email protected]