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Brenner gets positive review for first 90 days as leader of Grand Forks Public Schools

The first 90 days have been busy for Grand Forks Public School Superintendent Terry Brenner, and board members appear to be pleased with his work, according to an early evaluation.

Terry Brenner, director of curriculum, instruction, assessment and professional development, Grand Forks Public Schools
Grand Forks Public Schools Superintendent Terry Brenner. Grand Forks Herald Photo

The first 90 days have been busy for Grand Forks Public School Superintendent Terry Brenner, and board members appear to be pleased with his work, according to an early evaluation.

The School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved the evaluation that said Brenner's performance "has met expectations." The five-page document highlights Brenner's time as the district's head administrator since he took over in July for former Superintendent Larry Nybladh, who retired after being in the position for a decade.

"His interpersonal communication style has been key to establishing cohesion between administration, staff, teachers and School Board members," the review said.

Some of the high points included using a variety of platforms to communicate with stakeholders, recognizing staff accomplishments, being proactive in establishing norms and standards for the board and doing "a wonderful job" at being visible in the district.

"He is intentionally reaching out," the review said. "His presence throughout the district is evidenced by positive feedback from parents, staff and students, and there have been a number of comments received on the positive impact this has created. He is not just being visible. He is visiting with all levels of employees and students and is listening and gathering much information, which will enable his leadership to be that much stronger, better and understood."


Nybladh also had mostly positive reviews with his tenure, though some critiques included not being visible enough in schools and the community.

One part of Brenner's evaluation called for him to "communicate a yearly snapshot of board meeting agendas with descriptors such as policy or state law that might explain the 'why' behind agenda items so that the Board can be more mindful about the framework and timing of their work."

Overall, board members appear to be happy with Brenner's work. Board member Jacqueline Hoffarth said there has been a cultural shift felt within the district.

Brenner's next evaluation is slated for March.

In other news, board members also unanimously voted to hire Scott Berge of Altru Health System to replace school business manager Ed Gerhardt. Berge, who is the director of finance and budget with the hospital, was recommended by a committee of school administrators from a pool of nine candidates, according to district documents.

Berge is a 1994 graduate of UND with a bachelor's degree in accounting, according to his resume. Before joining Altru in 2013, he was a controller for Grand Forks-based trucking company S & S Transport, where he oversaw accounting, payroll, finance and tax duties for three years. He also worked as a senior manager for Drees, Riskey and Vallager in Grand Forks.

After serving the district for almost five years, Gerhardt announced he would retire at the end of this year. Berge, who will make an annual salary of $144,000 beginning Jan. 1, officially will begin his employment with Grand Forks Public Schools Dec. 1 to allow for a transition period.

Gerhardt makes $143,735 a year.

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