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Moorhead hires state school boards group for superintendent search

File photo: Lynne Kovash, Moorhead superintendent of schools, watches seniors cross the stage as she sits in the front row during commencement ceremonies Sunday, June 4, 2017, at Nemzek Hall on the campus of Minnesota State University Moorhead. Dave Wallis / The Forum

MOORHEAD - The Minnesota School Boards Association has been hired to coordinate the search for the Moorhead School District's next superintendent.

The School Board voted 6-0 Monday, Dec. 11, to pay the MSBA's Executive Search Service up to $10,000 to find candidates to replace former Superintendent Lynne Kovash, who retired at the end of November. The cost could rise if additional advertising, interviewing or site visit expenses are incurred, Board Chairman Bill Tomhave said.

Tomhave said the district could seek proposals from other firms, but the MSBA's service gets good reviews and the MSBA knows the district.

Board member Mark Altenburg liked the plan.

"I think keeping recruiting local makes sense," Altenburg said, adding, "I really like in this proposal that they include the community" in the search process.

A tentative search timeline calls for finalists to be chosen by early March, with first- and second-round interviews from mid-March to mid-April and a superintendent hired by the end of April. The goal would be to have a superintendent ready to start July 1.

The search package includes several opportunities for district stakeholders to have input into the search, including:

• An online survey.

• Community and district staff listening sessions.

• One-on-one interviews with school board members and up to 20 district staff or community leaders.

• Community/district staff question-and-answer forums with finalists.

• Training of interview committees.

The MSBA says it will screen applications, verify references and do pre-interviews of applicants. The search consultants will then meet with the school board to determine finalists.

Kovash, who has received chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer since June, said in November that she decided to retire earlier than originally planned to spend more time with family.

"I was eligible for retirement a few years ago. Just with the cold weather, having to get out every day, and also just wanting to spend more time with my family" are the reasons, Kovash said.

In other business, the board voted 6-0 to accept the audit report of the district's fiscal year 2017 finances — ending June 30, 2017 — from the Eide Bailly accounting firm.

The district received a clean or "unmodified" audit opinion. That means the district's financial statements follow generally accepted accounting principals, don't contain material misstatements and are fairly presented.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including education, Fargo city government, business and military affairs. He is currently The Forum's K-12 education reporter.

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