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Tri-County School Board offers superintendent-principal job to Alaska principal


The Tri-County School Board chose three finalists to interview for the Superintendent-Principal position: Drew Kjono, a Language Arts Teacher in Grygla, Minn., Julie Przekwas, a School Psychologist at the Northland Learning Center in Virginia, Minn., and Mike Gadbois, a Principal at Bering Strait School District in Alaska.

It interviewed these candidates via Zoom— a meeting application— on March 10. After these three interviews, each scheduled for one hour, the board unanimously made a decision that same night to offer the position— pending a background check, reference check, and negotiation of contract— to one candidate: Mike Gadbois.

It scheduled a meeting at 7 pm on March 15 to discuss the negotiation of his contract, bringing Gadbois into the discussion at 7:30 pm that night.

The Tri-County Board had four criteria in mind for its potential next superintendent-principal.

1.) A people person with proven ability in human relations and communications
2.) A person who acts with honesty and in an ethical manner with everyone, including the board, staff, and community
3.) A person who has experience in school finance
4.) A person who is visible and accessible to the board, staff, students, parents, and community

During deliberations, board member Raeya Hanson expressed how she felt one candidate “strongly” aligned with what the district was looking for, referring to Gadbois.

“We only have one candidate with the experience that we’re ideally looking for,” Hanson said. “I would be willing to entertain moving in that direction (of an offer) now.”

Board Chairperson Holly Burkel agreed with Hanson. Board member Jenalea Duray expressed some uneasiness in offering the position to someone without doing a second interview, mentioning how she didn’t know if she loved the idea of doing so.

“I just don’t want to rush into something, when maybe a second interview would give us more insight,” Duray said. “… I guess if everybody else feels differently, that’s that.”

Burkel didn’t see a second interview changing much.

“One of our criteria… is the experience,” Burkel said. “And that seems to be (where) we were all in agreement on that… as the criteria.”

Board member Denise Sollund agreed with Hanson and Burkel. She felt all the criteria were met, referring to Gadbois, and pointed specifically to experience.

“I felt very strongly that the experience was there, more competent in that experience,” Sollund said. “And I don’t want to miss an opportunity, especially if other offers are out there, to maybe get that (candidate) if all of our criteria are met.”

The board originally had March 15 reserved for a second round of interviews, but as a group decided to forego this round and go straight to offering Gadbois the position.

Before the board decided to offer Gadbois the position that night, Lee Warne from the Minnesota School Board Association said he had seen schools offer the position out of the gate following the first interview.

He added how if the board were to make an offer and it didn’t work out, it could invite the other candidates back for a second interview.

“At this point on the calendar year, it would be pretty tough to start over from scratch, simply because… you probably got to post (the job) a minimum of four weeks, if not longer,” Warne said. “And that would put us out into probably close to the third week of April by the time you got that far.”

To see the complete story, read the March 18 issue of the North Star News in print or online. To find out the results of the contract negotiations with Gadbois on March 15, read an upcoming issue of the North Star News.

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