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Monson one of six finalists for Alexandria Superintendent

Morris Area Superintendent Scott Monson

ALEXANDRIA - The Alexandria School Board is narrowing in on the search for a new leader for District 206.

On Monday, it named the six finalists who will be considered for the position of superintendent of schools. Morris Area Superintendent Scott Monson is one of the finalists.

The candidates, all of whom have significant experience in public education and administration in Minnesota, were drawn from a "strong field" of 35 applicants, according to board members.

"The board went through a very involved process, carefully examining every application that we received," said board chair Dean Anderson. "The finalists were selected based on input from community, staff, administrative and board teams that identified the central characteristics to be sought in the next superintendent as well as the key issues upon which the next superintendent should focus."

Finalists will be interviewed at the district office in Alexandria on September 20. They include:

Rick Bleichner is superintendent for the Breckenridge Public Schools. He has previous superintendent experience in two other Minnesota districts and has served in various administrative and teaching roles in Minnesota and North Dakota during his career. Bleichner's resume shows accomplishment in academic achievement and technology improvement.

Paul Carlson is superintendent for the New London-Spicer Public Schools where he served as assistant superintendent and high school principal prior to his current assignment. Carlson has principal and teaching experience in another Minnesota district as well. He has implemented community-based long range planning and goal setting initiatives in his district.

David Pace is superintendent for the East Grand Forks Public Schools. He has served as a superintendent, principal, and teacher in several other Minnesota school districts. Pace has experience with strategic planning initiatives and technology improvement efforts. He is a past recipient of the Minnesota Association of School Administrator's outstanding new leader award.

Rick Lahn is superintendent of the Princeton Public Schools where he previously served as middle school principal. His prior experience includes stints as an administrator and teacher in both public and private schools in Minnesota. Lahn earned statewide recognition for gains made in reading scores and he has been a Bush Educators Fellow with the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

Scott Monson is superintendent for the Morris Area Schools. He has previous experience as a high school principal and a teacher in several Minnesota and South Dakota school districts. Monson has shown accomplishment in raising academic standards and in securing financial stability. He has engaged district residents in the development of a legislative advocacy plan.

Lee Westrum is superintendent for the Benson Public Schools where he also served as a principal and teacher before he earned his current assignment. Westrum is experienced in strategic planning and has a strong background in curriculum and instruction. His community involvement includes extended service as an elected official on the City Council.

As a next step in the screening process, each candidate will interview on September 20 with four different teams: a staff group, an administrative group, a community group and the school board.

All four screening teams developed a set of attributes at August work sessions; these will be used to both frame interview questions and to "filter" the candidates according to the criteria.

All four teams will share thoughts regarding each candidate. After that, the school board will determine the next steps in the process, which could include the naming of the new superintendent or generating additional screening measures for these or other candidates.

If the screening process goes as planned, the school board hopes the new superintendent will be able to join the district by early January of 2013. Current Superintendent, Dr. Terry Quist, will retire from the district effective at the end of December.

"Terry has been an outstanding and forward thinking superintendent, which puts the district in a very strong and stable position for this leadership transition," said Dean Anderson. "The board is excited to continue the interview process by having the finalists come to our community to help determine who may be the best fit for our community, and could lead our district to the next level of excellence."