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Kringen to interview today for superintendent position

WILLMAR -- Mahnomen Superintendent Jon Kringen will be in Willmar today for his second interview for the Willmar superintendent position.

Kringen will be available to meet with the public at 4:30 p.m. in the little theater at Kennedy Elementary School, 824 Seventh St. S.W. He will answer questions from the public in an hour-long meeting moderated by the search firm hired by the district.

The community meeting for Kringen will be held at Kennedy because of a scheduling conflict at the Willmar Education and Arts Center. Other interviews have been held at WEAC. Kringen, like the two other candidates interviewed this week, will spend much of the day in the district. Superintendent Kathy Leedom, who is retiring July 31, will take him on a tour of the district in the afternoon. He will meet with district administrators at 2:30 p.m. and will participate in a question and answer session open to all school staff members at 3:30 p.m.

After the public meeting, he will have dinner with the School Board before a final board interview at 7:15 p.m. The interview, in the board room on the WEAC first floor, is open to the public.

Mountain Lake Superintendent Bill Strom was in the district on Tuesday, and Waconia Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard will be interviewed on Thursday.

Kringen, 49, has been superintendent in Mahnomen for two years. He has worked in education for 27 years. He and his wife have four adult children and five grandchildren.

In his career, Kringen has been a business education teacher in the Ada, Minn., schools and has worked as a principal and activities director at three North Dakota school districts, including Bismarck. He was superintendent at the Enderlin, N.D., Public Schools from 1995 to 2006 before moving to Mahnomen.

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.

When asked at his first interview how he would manage the transition to Willmar from the much smaller Mahnomen district, Kringen said he would draw on his experience at Bismarck, where he worked in the central office at activities director.

He said he studied the management style of the superintendent there and would follow a similar organization of using an administrative team and a superintendent's cabinet to oversee the district operations, he said. Another possibility would be "advisory councils of staff."

Kringen told the board that he would be a superintendent with character, confidence, courage and competence. "I believe every district I've left has been in better shape than how I found it," he said.

Kringen said in a telephone interview this week that he sees the Willmar job as a good step in his career and "an opportunity for my wife and I to have a life after kids."

They had driven by Willmar in the past but had not taken the time to look around the town until he had applied for the job. "It's a nice size town," he said, and they were impressed by the amenities the town has.

Kringen said he took the Mahnomen job as a transition to return to Minnesota and learn more about Minnesota school finance. "I made no secret of that with the board or the staff," he said. He has also applied for superintendent jobs in Long Prairie-Grey Eagle and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton this year.

His wife is from Ada, where he first taught, and they wanted to return to the state. He grew up in North Dakota, graduating from high school in Turtle Lake.

"We're looking for a place to settle," he said. "Willmar looks like it would be a great opportunity."