New superintendent looks to bring continuity to Tri-County
Long-time educator and school administrator David Pace retired at the end of 2021. He decided to go into private industry, but missed being in education. He chose to come back, doing an interim superintendent job starting last March. Then, last month he officially became the interim Tri-County Superintendent after the school board approved his one-year contract at a June 14 regular board meeting.
“It might be an interim. It might be more, so I’m not ruling anything out,” Pace said. “I plan on staying in education for the next few years.”
Pace talked about his experience in education, his Tri-County hiring, how he perceives his role within a school district, what his duties are, what he’s looking forward to most about the job, what the community can expect out of him, and a little bit about him outside the school walls.
Pace is beginning his twenty-second year as a superintendent— a role spanning four Minnesota school districts before Tri-County. He worked for six years as the superintendent at the Breckenridge School District and was later shared with the Campbell-Tintah School District. He then worked as the superintendent for nine years at the East Grand Forks School District. Following this stint, he worked as the superintendent for six years at the Greenway Public School District in Coleraine, Minn.
Before becoming a superintendent, he started his education career as an agricultural education teacher in Madelia, Minn., doing this for 10 years. He then worked as a high school principal in Mountain, Lake, Minn., for two years and as a high school principal in Breckenridge for two years before becoming that school’s superintendent.
“I’ve always said that I didn’t get into school administration because I didn’t like teaching,” Pace said.
He decided to transition from teaching to working in administration after feeling like he could apply some of this skills he implemented within his agriculture classroom at a broader level.
“Just one step led to another,” Pace said. “With my finance background and doing the best you can to keep up with school finance in the state of Minnesota, it’s led me right into the role of the superintendent.”
Pace has worked at school districts of all sizes, including Campbell-Tintah— a school district that was smaller than Tri-County.
“Knowing the unique needs of smaller districts in the state of Minnesota, and I’m at the point in my career in which a part-time position as an interim (superintendent) wasn’t a problem for me,” Pace said. “So I felt that with my skill and background that I could offer a lot to the district, and bringing continuity and getting the district back on the right track as far as administrative changes.”
As the superintendent, Pace views himself as the district’s general overseer. For him, it involves leading the district to ensure curriculum is being implemented correctly.
“If I look back at my career, one of the things that I’ve always told boards is, one of my goals is to always improve the curriculum, or the curriculum opportunities of each district,” Pace said. “And I think I’ve been successful in doing that.”
As a part-time interim superintendent, Pace doesn’t view his day to be any different than other district superintendents. It will involve working with district administration, office staff and K12 staff, overseeing the daily curriculum, and, as he pointed out, working with much more— from food service to transportation and extracurricular activities.
“You basically become immersed in the multiple avenues, or the multiple opportunities within a school district,” Pace said. “And, of course, the most important thing is making sure that we’ve got a solid curriculum for the students… Balancing all that is the challenge of the superintendent.”
Less than two months away from the school year beginning, Pace looks forward to Tri-County’s small school atmosphere, even with its challenges. He mentioned how ensuring the district is fully staffed is one of those challenges.
“That’s not a unique thing to Tri-County Schools,” Pace said. “… I talked to superintendents across the state, and it’s like everybody’s got one or two openings of… a position within their school district.”
Despite this, he’s looking forward to working with a district that is focused on its students and providing them a quality education.
“We’ve got a lot of staff that are teaching multiple curriculum areas,” Pace said. “Working with those staff to make sure they have the training that they need or the supports that they have to make sure that their skills in those multiple areas are top notch.”
Having worked within smaller and larger school districts, he looks forward to the interaction opportunity that a smaller school provides.
“(I look forward to) being back not so far away from the students,” Pace said. “In larger districts, you have a tendency to get pulled away from the student, the direct student interaction.”
To see the full story, read the July 14 issue of the North Star News in print or online.