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Willmar choices whittled -- Mahnomen superintendent one of the finalists

WILLMAR, Minn. - Two of three finalists returning for a second interview for the Willmar superintendent position are finalists in other superintendent positions in Minnesota.

Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard of Waconia and Superintendent Jon Kringen of Mahnomen confirmed Friday that they are finalists for superintendent positions in other districts.

Kjergaard, scheduled for his second Willmar interview Thursday, is a finalist for the Brainerd superintendent position. He participated Friday in a tour of Brainerd and a community and staff meeting Friday night, along with the other three finalists.

The four Brainerd candidates are scheduled for separate one-hour interviews Saturday with the Brainerd School Board.

Kringen, scheduled for his second Willmar interview Wednesday, is also a finalist for the Long Prairie-Grey Eagle superintendent position and interviewed there on April 19. He was not among the two candidates invited back for a second interview.

Superintendent Bill Strom of Mountain Lake is the third Willmar finalist returning for a second interview. Strom, scheduled to interview Tuesday in Willmar, wrote in an e-mail Friday that he is neither a finalist nor an applicant for any other superintendent opening.

"The one thing we knew going into our superintendent search is that it would be real competitive," said Willmar School Board chairman Mike Carlson on Friday in a telephone interview. "We have a good feeling about the three returning to interview (next week) and believe we have a good shot (at getting our choice)."

Kjergaard is one of four finalists for the Brainerd position. The other Brainerd finalists are Steve Rapidly, Brainerd assistant superintendent; Todd Luscious, Brainerd Community Education director; and John Longtime of Eagan.

The Brainerd board hopes to have someone hired by May 12.

Kjergaard was also one of three finalists in February for the superintendent position in New Prague School. He was not picked.

Kringen was one of five finalists in March for the superintendent position in Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton School District. He did got get that position.

Willmar board members are scheduled to choose a final candidate by Friday and begin negotiating a contract. The board hopes to have a new superintendent working in the district by July 1.

Superintendent Kathy Leedom will retire July 31 after 14 years with the district, the last eight as superintendent.

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