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School board decides on firm in search for superintendent

The Austin School Board Monday night voted to hire an outside firm to head its search for a new superintendent to replace current Superintendent David Krenz, who will be retiring at the end of this school year.

The board opted to go with the Minnesota School Board Association for an estimated price tag of $12,500.

The choosing of the MSBA officially starts the process as Chairwoman Carolyn Dube laid out a general timeline for the choosing of a superintendent.

In it’s bid to the school, MSBA laid out the process it will take to guide the board through the hiring process including, but not limited to conducting the advertising and recruitment campaign, prep the interview process and screen the applicants.

Several board members voiced confidence in how the MSBA conducts the process and felt comfortable with the individual parts of it, especially with those members set to go through their first hiring process.

“They know our history,” said Peggy Young. “I really liked the workshop idea. I like that option because I feel I need to learn a little more about the process.”

Kathy Green agreed with the assessment, adding that the community itself would benefit from bringing the MSBA on board.

“I think we have a community that is so vested in the school and interested in the process and they would be able to facilitate the input,” Green said.

While there wasn’t much disagreement with the choosing of the MSBA, Dick Lees voiced concern for the hiring time frame, arguing that the process would be rushed.

“This would leave April, May for this person to get familiar with the system and people and the buildings themselves,” Lees said. “I think that would be awfully late. I think that person should be hired much earlier.”

The timeline for hiring, as put forth by Dube, puts the approval of a candidate in March of 2021. Krenz was hired in November of 2008, but he didn’t start his job until July of 2009. While the timeline for the new hire would allow for a shorter window of getting familiarized with the district, it still leaves the entire summer open for the new hire to adapt and plan .

“I truly believe that you do have the talent in the district to move into this position or if you choose externally, that gives that person the same amount of transition time I had,” Krenz said in August when he announced his retirement.

General timeline for superintendent search

September 2020: Select a search firm.

October/November 2020: Gather input from stakeholders (listening sessions, surveys, etc.)*

December 2020/January 2021: Application period for candidates.

February 2021: Interviews and negotiation.

March 2021: Approve new contract at March board meeting.

*Stakeholders are considered to be anybody in the community with a vested interest in the process or the school.

Money back

The Austin School Board also received some good news earlier in the meeting with the announcement that it would receive a rebate on general obligation school building refunding bonds.

The board voted to sell the bonds for a sale price of $20,035,000. The proceeds from the refinancing will come out to a total of $248,000 per year for 11 years for taxpayers starting in 2021 and will come to an approximate savings total of $2,745,725.59 over those 11 years.

The final estimate will be determined on Oct. 8 with the final principle and exact amount of the true interest locked in Oct. 12. The board will then approve the bond at their October meeting, which is on Oct. 12.

“It saves money to the taxpayers,” Krenz said. “It’s not really saving for the school, but it will be saving our taxpayers a huge amount of money on their tax bills.”

The bonds were originally acquired to help pay for the construction of IJ Holton Intermediate School in 2013.