The search for a new school superintendent is down to three finalists -- and the Detroit Lakes School Board could make its final selection as soon as Wednesday.
The school board has scheduled second-round interviews for the finalists to start at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5, at the Holiday Inn, Detroit Lakes. All interviews are open to the public, and will last for approximately one hour, with 15 minute breaks in between. It is expected that the board will name its choice from the three finalists later that evening, following deliberation.
The three finalists were selected from a pool of six applicants based on criteria established by the school board. All six took part in public interviews Saturday, Feb. 1.
The three finalists are:
MARK JENSON: Principal, grades 6-12, Rocori Area Schools, Cold Spring, Minn. According to his LinkedIn profile, Jenson taught English at Moorhead Public Schools from 1995 to 2006, before taking the position as principal of Rocori High School in July 2007. He added grades 6-8 to his principal's duties at Rocori in 2012.
MICHAEL KOLNESS: Superintendent of East Grand Forks Public Schools. Kolness, married and the father of four, has served as superintendent of East Grand Forks Public Schools since July 2016. He was a finalist for the superintendent’s job in Bemidji in 2017 and was one of two finalists for that position in Fergus Falls in 2018.
DONITA STEPAN: Malone Intermediate School Principal, Prescott, Wis. Stepan started her teaching career as a middle school reading instructor in Buffalo, Minn., before teaching at Simley High School for seven years. She then became the literacy coach and district literacy coordinator in the South Washington County School district in Cottage Grove. Before taking the job in Prescott in 2018, she was the director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment in Byron, Minn. Stepan is also one of three finalists for the superintendent's position at Hermantown, Minn., and was recently a finalist for the superintendent's position at St. Clair (Minn.) Public Schools.
According to the agenda for Wednesday's special meeting, the board will "receive and discuss information from the board, staff, and community" before naming their choice, after which they will decide on and schedule the steps necessary for the rest of the hiring process.
The district's current superintendent, Doug Froke, announced last year that he will be leaving his position at the end of this school year. His last day on the job will be June 30.
The base salary for the superintendent position in Detroit Lakes for the 2019-20 school year is $152,000.