After 13 years, Mike Funk will no longer lead Albert Lea Area Schools as superintendent, as board members accepted his letter of resignation Tuesday night at a special board meeting.

Before that, they got a special presentation from Jeff Olson and Barb Dorn of the Minnesota Schools Board Association. The MSBA was hired to lead the search for the next superintendent. Dennis Dieser and Jill Marin assisted remotely.

The first thing to know about the upcoming process is that there is an open meeting law and a practice date law, which means that throughout the search, members will talk about private information when discussing. a public meeting, for every part of the search for a new superintendent must be done in open session. This includes the trainings, the selection of finalists and even the interviews themselves and the deliberations that follow them.

But due to private information, all applications for the position will be available to board members electronically. They will also be available in hard copy at the district office. And since this is private data, the names of the candidates will only be revealed once the finalists have been selected.

The next thing is the relevant dates in the calendar for a new hire.

According to Olson, there will be an online stakeholder survey that will be open this Thursday through April 28.

“It’s a survey that we use pretty consistently with all of the superintendent research,” Olson said.

According to Olson, once the survey is completed, the MSBA will review it to create a survey summary that will include the key traits, skills and abilities respondents are looking for in a superintendent. A link to the survey should be on the district’s website, but parents and staff can also look for it in email communications.

There will be a virtual information meeting (a question and answer session) hosted by MSBA at 4 p.m. on April 27, but there is expected to be a recorded session on the district website the following day. There will then be two hours of interview training, a discussion of the stakeholder report, and an overview of interview questions and interview procedures. This meeting will take place at 5 p.m. on May 5 at the Brookside Education Center in the boardroom at 211 W. Richway Dr. At that time, Olson and his team will have a prepared set of questions based, in part, on the results. of the stakeholder survey.

The position will be posted between Thursday and May 10 and can be found via Revelus. Ads will be listed on the MSBA website, the Minnesota Association of School Administrators website, and EdPost.

“There are people who are probably already looking for that posting,” Olson said.

At that time, MSBA will conduct screenings and preliminary reference checks to establish a pre-interview list of recommended candidates.

At 5 p.m. on May 17, the MSBE will virtually meet with the board to present its list of recommended candidates. Board members have the option of accepting or rejecting candidates. This meeting will also take place in the council room.

First-round interviews will take place on May 23 and 24 starting at 4 p.m., and second-round interviews with the finalists (where the nominees’ names are publicly revealed) will take place on May 26, also at 4 p.m.

The board agreed to use the results of the stakeholder survey to determine candidates for the second round of interviews.

“People are used to polls and working online, probably because of the pandemic,” Olson said. “But the other element behind it is that everyone is on an equal footing when you have this investigation result. You have not given extra time or attention to a person or people in particular.

All board members argued that it would be foolish to use a stakeholder search committee to determine finalists – which was another option – when they could use the results of the investigation.

On May 27, negotiations on a contract will begin in a closed meeting, and the only member of the board of directors who will participate is Skaar. Approval of a work contract will take place on June 6 at their regular meeting at 5:00 p.m. A background check will be conducted before the finalist is offered the position.

Board member Kim Nelson suggested that the special education cooperative with Austin schools be included as a point of pride, and Neal Skaar suggested that MSBE highlight the district’s College in the Schools program, which enables students to earn college credit while still in high school.

In discussing salary language options, board members agreed on a comprehensive compensation package to be negotiated based on experience and qualifications.

“If we get somebody who doesn’t have a lot of experience and we throw in a package that’s a little less than what Dr. Funk is doing, then I just don’t want somebody coming in and saying, ‘ “Well, that’s what Dr. Funk did, that’s what I should get,” Dieser said as he explained his reasoning by listing the potential salary.

Board members agreed they wanted to see how the contestants answered a question about school finances, as well as an answer about building a successful administrative team.

Dorn emphasized the importance of board ownership throughout the process.