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Grand Forks schools superintendent Nybladh to retire

Larry Nybladh, superintendent of Grand Forks Public Schools, is heading into retirement.

Nybladh announced his resignation effective June 30, 2018, in a letter to school board members included as part of their agenda packet for a regularly scheduled Monday meeting. In his letter, Nybladh wrote that the Grand Forks district "is an exceptional school system and one I have been honored to serve in a leadership capacity this past decade."

"So, accordingly, it is with a twinge of sadness that I submit to you my retirement resignation," he continued. "However, I do feel the time is right for my family and me for this decision. I also believe the timing is appropriate for the school district."

School board member Katie Dachtler said the inclusion of the letter in the most recent agenda was the first that she'd heard of Nybladh's intent to retire.

"Board members didn't receive that until it was submitted with the rest of the information," Dachtler said. Due to stipulations of open meetings laws, the board has not yet discussed the letter nor Nybladh's impending departure.

Dachtler said the Monday meeting will include discussion of how the board will proceed through the search for a new superintendent.

"It'll likely be a fairly long meeting," she said.

Nybladh took office in 2008 in a role that also oversees the Grand Forks Air Force Base school district. His retirement date would come at the end of a three-year contract extension approved in 2015 after a 6-3 vote of the board. That renewal took place a year after he won recognition as the 2014 North Dakota Superintendent of the Year, as selected by the North Dakota Association of School Administrators.

In recent years, Nybladh has ranked as the highest paid public employee in Grand Forks. Prior to his contract renewal, he suggested to board members in 2014 that his salary be frozen in light of the district's budgetary issues at that time, a measure he hoped would set a tone for school employees.

According to a memorandum from Ed Gerhardt, the business manager of the school district, Nybladh's salary now stands at $231,210.

The superintendent wrote in his retirement announcement that he began his career in education nearly 37 years ago, with almost 30 years of that in service as a school district superintendent. Nybladh's employee biography on the Grand Forks district website states that he is a graduate of UND who started out in 1980 as a student-teacher at a local junior high school. Nybladh did not return a Saturday request for comment.

Given the length of the superintendent's career, Dachtler said "it's not surprising that he'd maybe be interested in an early retirement."

Still, she says she "didn't see it coming, necessarily."

"I didn't think it was going to be this year, but it is what it is," she said. "My understanding is that he's going to be interested in helping us set up how we want to do our search process so that we're not too far behind and get to have the best candidates possible to choose from and get someone who can do good things for our district."

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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