Search for new "super" is onSchool district superintendents are many things to many people.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
School district superintendents are many things to many people.
Specifically, they are the chief executives of districts. But they're often also the face of an entire school system.
They are the go-betweens for school boards and district staff, and when it comes time to drum up support for school funding, they must attempt to convince voters to open up their pocketbooks.
"I think it's a very tough role to take on," Red Wing School Board Chairwoman Heidi Jones said.
So when districts lose their superintendents, as Red Wing learned it will at the end of the school year, it's a big deal.
Supt. Stan Slessor made the announcement in October, triggering a process that won't end until February, when his replacement is expected to be named.
Slessor said he and his wife will be returning to his native Iowa, where he plans to spend retirement living closer to family.
"I believe strongly in life cycles and the influence of family, and the limited amount of time one has to be with one's family," he told the R-E in October. "There's only so much time and no one knows how much time you've been given."
He was hired in 2004 - a time when nerves were still raw from the 2002 teachers union strike. School Board members at the time sought out a healer.
Jones said they got that in Slessor.
"Oh, absolutely," she said, describing a "really nice, warm, personal style that Stan has."
Slessor has come to be known as a collaborative, thoughtful presence in the district with a keen focus on education.
Moving forward, however, the current board has expressed the desire for some different qualities in his successor. A meeting between search consultant Ken La Croix and the board revealed desires for a superintendent with organized business acumen and an enthusiasm to explore things such as tying teacher pay to student achievement - a possibility the board has been considering for nearly a year.
Meanwhile, the process to select his replacement is in full swing. Jones said the district's superintendent search consultant reported last week that nine applicants had put in for the job.
"We have got a good number now and expect to double that by the new year," Jones said of applicants. "I'm feeling pretty good about it."
The application process closes Jan. 14.