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GMRTC Joint Powers Board extends superintendent employment to Bill Walters


The Greenbush-Middle River/Tri-County (GMRTC) Joint Powers Board did second round interviews on April 27 at the Tri-County School Library with two of the remaining superintendent candidates: Eric Martinez, a Superintendent from La Crescent-Hokah Public Schools, La Crescent, Minn., and Bill Walters, Superintendent from Alta-Aurelia School District, Alta, Iowa.

After deliberations and a few recesses, the joint powers board moved to extend employment to Walters, pending a negotiated contract and criminal background check.

One of three original candidates, Todd Selk, Principal from Valley Middle School, Grand Forks, N.D., was at the GMR School Library for first round interviews on April 25, but was not at the second round interviews.

As previously reported, the GMRTC Joint Powers Board had moved the first round interview day up by two days— from April 27—after Gary Lee of the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA), an individual hired to assist the joint board in this superintendent hiring process, reported how two of the candidates were having their second round interviews at the Fosston School on April 26.

During deliberations following the second round interviews, Lee reported how the Fosston School Board went back and forth between Selk and Walters for a long time.

The boards members of the joint powers board addressed the strengths they saw in each candidate and which candidate they were leaning towards. Of the six GMRTC Joint Powers Board members, four leaned towards Walters, including all three Tri-County board members (Mark Koland, Holly Burkel, and Jenalea Duray) and one GMR School Board member (Shane Kilen), and two towards Martinez, including two GMR School Board members (Allison Harder and Brandon Kuznia).

Before the board agreed on a final candidate, Lee highlighted the decision before the board.

“You had three candidates, but you got two left that can do the job,” Lee said, “and now it’s a matter of trying to figure out where, which one you can all get behind.”

As Lee explained, the board didn’t need a 6-0 vote, needing just a 4-2 vote.

Playing the “devil’s advocate,” Kuznia asked what the board’s next step was if neither candidate was for them. Lee said they would find an interim that would cover both schools.

“Frankly, this is me spouting off my opinion, but … if you don’t like either one of these two guys, I don’t know what you’re going to get,” Lee said. “I don’t know what you want actually then at that point.”

Burkel believed that if the joint powers board talked it out, it could come to a decision. Later in the meeting, the two board members, Harder and Kuznia, expressed a willingness to get behind Walters.

Before the meeting ended, Lee thanked the board for it efforts and emphasized how the MSBA was here to help.

“We’re blazing some new trails here,” Lee said, referring to the joint powers board working to hire a shared superintendent. “… I think you made a good decision.”

To see the complete story, read the May 4 issue of The Tribune or the May 5 issue of the North Star News in print or online.

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