Wrenshall School Board to survey community on superintendent qualities

Before posting for the position, the Wrenshall School Board is looking for community input on how the district should format its superintendent position for next year.

Wrenshall School File.jpg
Wrenshall School
Clint Austin / 2021 File / Duluth News Tribune

WRENSHALL — After a lengthy discussion, the Wrenshall School Board decided it would be best to ask the community for its input on what qualities it would like to see in the district's next superintendent, during a special meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 1.

The board held a "study session" prior to the special meeting where it discussed possible options for looking for a superintendent.

The options discussed by the board included: having a merged superintendent and principal and adding a 0.8 full-time equivalent dean of students, having a 0.6 FTE superintendent and a principal, or having a 0.5 FTE superintendent and a principal.

Superintendent Kimberly Belcastro had been working for the district as a 0.6 FTE before she retired. She was hired back part-time as a 0.5 FTE until the end of the school year.

According to district documents, the option with the merged superintendent/principal position would cost the school district $213,000 a year.


The 0.6 position would cost the district $208,000, and the 0.5 position would cost $203,000.

Business manager Angela Lind noted that the estimated figures do not include health benefits, as the current superintendent and principal do not take benefits from the district. Roughly $15,000 would be added to each option if the new hire were to use district benefits.

During the discussion, board member Misty Bergman, who is the lead on the district's superintendent search committee, said she would like to have time to get responses from a survey on what the community is looking for with the new hire.

Bergman said she intends on sending the survey to staff, parents and community members to get a wide variety of answers.

"We can't rush this. We don't even know what we are looking for yet," she said.

While the special meeting was held to post the superintendent position and to post for a custodial position after a resignation, the board agreed to table posting for the superintendent to wait for community responses.

Bergman said she will give the rest of the board members a chance to look over the survey before she sends it out and will let recipients know that the board would like responses as soon as possible.

Bergman added that she would try and get an instant alert out through the district so that all parents would get the notification.


Board member Eric Ankrum said the board's decision might also depend on the applicants it gets.

"Part of that decision process is 'What do our applicants look like?'" he said. "If we get very strong applicants at a 0.5 (FTE) we all of a sudden lean more that way."

While board members did not set a timeline for the responses during the meeting, board member Mary Carlson said it would be important to get the survey out as soon as possible to have initial results by the next meeting.

"So that at our regular meeting we can authorize the posting of the position," she said. "Ultimately we make the decision, but knowing that everyone has been heard is paramount."

The board members did not express a favorite of the three options during the meeting, and board chair Nicole Krisak said a decision on the best option will be made once the board has survey responses.

"I think we need to know what people are looking for — what they want," she said.

The study session was a new addition to the district's meeting schedule, adding to the existing regular meeting and committee of the whole work session. Krisak said the study session is another way for the board to be transparent in its decisions and allow for the public to listen in.

It is also a way for the district committees to have a chance to update the full board on their progress or any issues they may be tackling, she added.


The board approved a study session schedule for the remainder of the year that includes a meeting in April, August and October.

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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