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Dahlstrom
Dahlstrom

Red Wing names two supt. finalists

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news Red Wing, 55066

Red Wing Minnesota 2760 North Service Drive / P.O. Box 15 55066

The Red Wing School Board has selected two very different candidates as finalists for the superintendent position.

Karsten Anderson and Virginia Dahlstrom were selected Wednesday night, following first-round interviews Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon.

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Anderson is the current superintendent at Watertown-Mayer Public Schools. He has 13 years of experience as a superintendent - 10 of which were at Watertown-Mayer - and is also a former school district business manager.

Dahlstrom is superintendent at Wadena-Deer Creek. She has three years of superintendent experience and has worked in schools in Egypt and Korea.

"(Dahlstrom)'s a mover, and (Anderson)'s steady," Red Wing School Board member Mike Christianson said. "Either one would be good."

But that's not to say there aren't similarities between the two.

Both candidates are experienced in handling school budgets. Dahlstrom was hired at Wadena-Deer Creek to streamline the district's finances. She calls herself "feisty" when it comes to finding extra money or gaps in a budget.

Even though Anderson says he's "not an accountant," his background as a school business manager gives him "strong" financial management skills.

In addition, both Anderson and Dahlstrom have gotten referendums or levies passed in their districts, something they would be called on to do if hired here. Red Wing School District's five-year referendum must be renewed by 2013.

Dahlstrom was able to help pass two referendums for Wadena Deer-Creek, which is in one of the poorest counties in Minnesota, she said.

Ten years ago, Anderson helped get an operating levy passed for Watertown-Mayer, and, in 2004, helped pass a building levy. An operating referendum did not pass in the district this past November.

Anderson said he's learned from that experience; the timing of the request was wrong and the message did not resonate with voters.

Both candidates say the keys to passing referendums or levies are having open, transparent communication with the community and building good relationships with voters.

One last common thread in both candidates' interview answers was their desires to put the students first. "Students are why we're all here," Anderson said. Dahlstrom echoed that statement, saying when making budget cuts, she makes sure that students needs are met first.

The Next Steps

Out of the five candidates interviewed, the School Board selected Dahlstrom and Anderson unanimously, the district's search consultant Ken LaCroix said.

"I really like the two that we came up with," Vice Chairman Dennis Porter said. Chairwoman Heidi Jones agreed.

Now, board members must choose the questions they will ask Anderson and Dahlstrom in second-round interviews. LaCriox will help the board members design their questions based on the qualities that the district has identified it wants in a superintendent.

"It's really important that the questions get at what they want to know about the candidate," LaCroix said. "It's all about finding the right fit for the district."

The board will hold a workshop at 4:15 p.m. Monday in the high school's Little Theater to determine those questions.

The last round of interviews will be Feb. 15 and 16. Each candidate will spend an entire day in the district, touring the facilities and meeting with administrators. A public forum will follow with each candidate, giving the community the chance to meet Anderson and Dahlstrom, ask questions and leave comments.

"I really hope the public comes out and take advantage of the opportunity to interact," Jones said of the forums.

The board plans to select the final candidate Feb. 16. But Jones predicted that decision won't come easily.

"We've got a lot to absorb," she said.

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