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Two finalists interview for Crookston superintendent job

Jeremy Olson1 / 2
Jeff Wilson2 / 2

CROOKSTON—The Crookston School Board will interview two finalists and may decide whom to hire as the next superintendent of Crookston Public Schools on Wednesday.

Finalists are Jeremy Olson, superintendent of school districts in Henning and Underwood, Minn., and Jeffrey Wilson, elementary school principal at Hinckley-Finlayson School in Hinckley, Minn.

They were selected from a pool of six candidates who were interviewed late last week, said Frank Fee, chairman of the Crookston School Board.

Crookston school staff members and area residents may meet and talk with the finalists, Olson at 4 p.m. and Wilson at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, at the Crookston High School choir room, Fee said.

The School Board will interview each finalist at 4 and 5:30 p.m., and then the board will deliberate and possibly decide on whom to offer the job, he said.

If the board makes a selection Wednesday, three board members will travel to that person's community Friday for a site visit to talk with school staff members and others, he said.

The site visit will be conducted by Fee, Kari Miller and Dave Davidson, Fee said.

Last week six candidates were interviewed by School Board members and by a group of seven community members and another group of seven school staff members who were selected by their peers.

From those interviews, Olson and Wilson emerged with the highest ratings in a system that ranked candidates in terms of "exceeds, meets or does not meet standards" in categories related to experience and capabilities, Fee said.

The results of the rating system were compiled and provided by the Minnesota School Board Association, which the Crookston School Board hired to conduct the superintendent search, Fee said.

Each finalist "interviewed strong," he said.

The School Board viewed Olson's experience as a superintendent and understanding of school finance issues as particular strengths, he said.

Also Olson "is a very good communicator and works well with staff."

The board "is looking for a leader who is involved in the community and the (school) district," he said.

Wilson, too, exhibited strengths that impressed board members.

"He communicated well with us," Fee said. "We wanted to hear him a second time."

His "enthusiasm" and ability to work well with students were considered attributes, he said.

Wilson "rated high on building and working with leadership teams, working collaboratively with staff and other entities of the school district," Fee said. "He works with them really well."

In addition to their final interviews with the School Board, Olson and Wilson will tour Crookston and its public schools and are scheduled to meet individually with Superintendent Chris Bates on Wednesday, Fee said.

The board plans to work out details of and firm up a contract with the new superintendent by late February.

Bates has announced his retirement as of June 30.

The School Board intends for the next superintendent to start July 1.