School board picks La Crescent superintendent

Published 9:31 am Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It has been a long road, but the Austin Public School District will now likely know who their next administrator will be beginning July 1.

On Tuesday, the Austin School Board approved a resolution to enter into negotiations for a superintendent contract with David Krenz, superintendent of La Crescent-Hokah Schools in La Crescent, Minn.

Six of the seven board members listed Krenz, whose final interview was Thursday, as their top pick for the position.

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One member, Mary Kleis, wanted to continue the search.

The board selected their choices at the start of the meeting by submitting a slip of paper with the name to their search consultant, Ken Dragseth of School Exec Connect.

“It seems like a long journey when we started back in March,” said Dragseth, who believes Krenz will accept the position. “You really dig into the good and the bad of a district.

“You’re going to do well with him,” he said of the board’s choice.

Board members were given the opportunity to explain why their made their decisions.

“I was impressed by all of them,” said long-time board member Dave Simonson. “This is the sixth superintendent search I’ve been involved in.”

Simonson said he likes Krenz because his focus is on “student achievement.”

Vice president Dick Lees said Krenz’s family background in education and experience made him the best candidate.

“I think he’d be a very easy person to work with,” he said. “I have found no negatives as far as people who have worked with him.”

Board member Kathy Green said “only time will tell” if the board made the best decision.

“I truly do look toward it as a positive,” she said.

Kleis explained why she thinks the board should continue their search.

“I felt it would have been nice to have more experience in our candidate,” she said. “I was not ‘wowed,’ and I was hoping to be ‘wowed.’ ”

Treasurer and former teacher Diana Wangsness said Krenz is a “team-builder,” and that she believes experience in small school districts is “not a negative.”

“He is not the sage on the stage who wants all the accolades,” she said.

Wangsness also added she believes Krenz will allow staff to make mistakes and learn from them “without fear.”

Clerk Curt Rude said he likes that southeast Minnesota is where Krenz’s “heart lays,” and added that the “elusive ‘wow’ factor” had him torn in his decision.

“We can only hope for the best and support this candidate,” he said.

Chairman Don Fox said the candidate’s yearly three-week “think tank” fellowship was what convinced him.

“It proves he is knowledgeable,” Fox said. “I think it’s out-of-the-ordinary, extra-special.”

After the decision was made, the board had to vote on a resolution to enter into contract negotiations.

Kleis, however, did give the board her support after some hesitation, making the approval to move forward with negotiations unanimous.

Krenz has served as superintendent at La Crescent-Hokah since July 2004. His job experience includes superintendent of Wabasha-Kellogg School District, Wabasha, Minn. from December 2001 to June 2004 and administrative experience in the Wausau School District, Wausau, Wis. as well as positions as technology coordinator and in teaching and coaching.

Krenz’s higher education has all come from Winona State University: a sixth-year degree in educational administration, master’s degree in educational administration and bachelor of science degree in math and chemistry.

The two other finalist candidates were Deborah Clarke, educational curriculum consultant from Auburn Hills, Mich., and Don Hainlen, superintendent of Chatfield Public Schools.

Fox said the board will likely vote on the contract at its first regular meeting Monday, Jan. 12.

Interim superintendent Bruce Anderson was hired July 1 to replace Candace Raskin and will serve one year.