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Editorial: Willmar's searching for leader of schools

The Willmar School Board is in the midst of its process to hire a replacement for Superintendent Kathy Leedom. The board Monday night selected six finalists for first-round interviews.

Tuesday night the board interviewed:

- Barry Olson, superintendent at Blooming Prairie;

- Mark Miley, principal at Willmar Junior High; and

- Bill Strom, superintendent at Mountain Lake.

Tonight the board will interview:

- Gregory Schmidt, superintendent at MACCRAY;

- Jon Kringen, superintendent at Mahnomen; and

- Jerry Kjergaard, superintendent at Waconia.

The public is invited to attend the interviews in the board room of the Willmar Education and Arts Center, 611 Fifth St. S.W.

These all appear to be good candidates as presented by Ken Dragseth of School Exec Connect search firm. They were selected from a pool of 24 candidates who completed the application process.

Initially, the board planned to make a decision by Friday of the candidates to return next week for a final interview day. The board decided Monday night to meet immediately following tonight's interviews to make the second interview decision.

This plan for a quick decision on the second-interview candidates is concerning. While the board is on a tight deadline to find Leedom's replacement, we question if a night of reflection is not in order for such an important decision.

The public, staff and district administrators will have an opportunity to interact with the two or three candidates invited back for the second interview next week. We encourage all to participate in the superintendent selection process next week.

Ultimately, the decision on the next superintendent lies with the Willmar School Board. However, this community, the district's administrators and staff, and, most importantly, our district's students all have a stake in this superintendent selection.