Weather Forecast


Willmar School Board completes interviews of second group

The Willmar School Board interviewed Schmidt, Kringen and Kjergaard Wednesday evening before they chose finalists.

Greg Schmidt

Schmidt has been superintendent at MACCRAY School District since 2006.

According to 2006-07 information from the Minnesota Department of Education, the district had 745 students, and 37 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, considered an indicator of the poverty level in a district. The district has an ethnic breakdown of 95 percent white, 5 percent Hispanic and 1 percent black. It reported a 96 percent attendance rate and a 93 percent graduation rate.

Schmidt is a graduate of Redwood Falls High School. He earned his bachelor's degree from Southwest State University and a master's degree in educational leadership from Minnesota State University at Mankato. He earned his superintendent licensure at Mankato.

Early in his career he taught in several Iowa districts and then worked for the Department of Education and for a computer software company. He taught in the Mankato Area Public Schools and coached track and cross country before working as a principal in the LeSeur-Henderson Public Schools. From 1999 to 2006, he worked as financial manager and then chief administrator for the RiverBend Academy Charter School in Mankato.

Schmidt said he felt his broad experience and his work in starting and developing the charter school would make him a good fit for Willmar.

One of the challenges facing schools as they prepare for the future is the need to understand that things will never again be like they were in the past and to embrace new ways of doing things, he said.

Jon Kringen

Kringen has been superintendent at Mahnomen Public Schools since 2006.

According to the state's 2006-07 statistics, the district had 640 students, and 66 percent of them are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches. The district's ethnic mix is 60 percent American Indian, 39 percent white and 1 percent Asian. The district reports an attendance rate of 89 percent and a graduate rate of 84 percent.

Kringen has a bachelor's degree from Minot State University in Minot, N.D. He earned a master's degree in education administration and an education specialist degree from North Dakota State University in Fargo.

He taught business education at Ada Public Schools before becoming a principal at several North Dakota school districts. He was a superintendent at the Enderlin, N.D., Public Schools from 1995 to 2006 before moving to Mahnomen.

Kringen told the board he thought he'd be a good fit for the district because he had the character, confidence and competence they were looking for. He said he was a hard worker and said in hockey he would be called a "grinder," the guy who shows up every day and gets the job done.

Jerry Kjergaard

Kjergaard has been superintendent of Waconia Public Schools since 2000.

State statistics indicate that the district had 2,832 students, with 9 percent eligible for free and reduced-price lunches. The ethnic breakdown is 93 percent white, 2 percent Hispanic, 2 percent black, 2 percent Asian and 1 percent American Indian. The district reports a 96 percent attendance rate and a 99 percent graduation rate.

Kjergaard has a bachelor's degree from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion and a master's degree in secondary school administration from the University of South Dakota. He earned an education specialist degree and a doctorate in educational administration from Drake University at Des Moines, Iowa.

He taught social studies and coached at several school districts in Iowa and then worked as a principal at districts in Dayton, Iowa, and Norway, Iowa. He was superintendent in the Fredericksburg, Iowa, and Cherokee, Iowa, school districts before spending two years as an assistant professor and department chair in the Florida State University College of Education. He served as an assistant superintendent in the Sioux City, Iowa, for three years before moving to Waconia.

When asked, Kjergaard laid out a plan of what he thought the board would need to do to present an operating levy referendum to the voters this fall. He said Waconia, a growing district, has asked the voters to pass a levy in six of the past eight years. Three had passed.

The lack of stable state funding is a problem for schools planning for the future, he said. The current system requires districts to pass levies to pay for day-to-day operations when they should be reserved to pay for enhancements.