School Board picks finalistsAn educator who spent eight years of his professional career in Jamestown as director of elementary education will not receive an interview by the Jamestown Public School Board for the superintendent position. David Saxberg, current principal at Will-Moore Elementary School in Bismarck, ranked fifth in the list of eight candidates who were reviewed at a special meeting Monday night. The top four advanced in the selection process.
By: By Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
An educator who spent eight years of his professional career in Jamestown as director of elementary education will not receive an interview by the Jamestown Public School Board for the superintendent position.
David Saxberg, current principal at Will-Moore Elementary School in Bismarck, ranked fifth in the list of eight candidates who were reviewed at a special meeting Monday night. The top four advanced in the selection process.
“I think he’s comfortable like an old shoe, we all know him but he’s never actually been in a leadership role,” said JPS Board President Roy Musland. “He didn’t make my short list.”
Heather Rohr, Jamestown Education Association representative, commented later in the meeting that he will never get leadership experience if he isn’t hired.
“You need somebody willing to take the first chance on you,” Rohr said. “How do you get the first teaching job? You need somebody willing to hire you.”
Board member Roger Haut said Saxberg has a similar leadership style to current Superintendent Bob Toso, who is retiring in June after being an administrator with the district for the past 12 years.
“The perception I got is if you want the same leadership we have, then Dave is your hire,” Haut said.
Several board members said they appreciate Saxberg and the work he has put in and that he has the most experience with a Class A district like Jamestown. His doctorate that he obtained last year was an added benefit as well, as only three of the eight had that level of education.
“I have a lot of respect for Dave Saxberg,” said Greg Allen, board member “I think in a district somewhere he’s going to be a great superintendent, but I don’t think that’s going to be in this district.”
Allen and other board members said it wouldn’t be fair to offer him an interview if they weren’t seriously considering him for the position.
“If that’s the case you’d be wasting his time and ours,” Allen said.
The board did add current Carrington Superintendent Brian Duchscherer to the list to be interviewed.
Duchscherer has spent seven years as superintendent in Carrington and six years prior to that in the same position in Wishek.
“I like that he knows the area,” Musland said. “The thing I was interested in he was on the North Dakota High School Activities Association — that was one thing that caught my eye.”
The School Board contracted with Jon Martinson, executive director for the North Dakota School Boards Association, to help with the hiring process.
Martinson knows numerous education officials across the state. He asked some of them for their opinions on the Carrington superintendent.
Martinson said he was told that Duchscherer has been hesitant for his schools to join the regional education cooperatives for their appropriate region until grants were available as an added benefit.
“Only when the Hess Corp. came forward with a $35 million grant that districts can apply for, ‘Oh look, Carrington is part of your REA.’ Other than that he is recommended for you,” he said.
The district also selected two superintendents in the Oil Patch for interviews here — Robert Lech from Beulah and Gary Wilz from Killdeer.
Board member Terry Andersen was hesitant to offer an interview to Lech because last year the district hired another Beulah administrator — Gail Wold — middle school principal.
“I think it’s also a relational thing as how that mix works with the rest of the staff in place,” Andersen said.
Martinson has experience with Lech and said he was pleased the board eventually agreed to interview him.
“I was pleased he rose to our interview status in our preliminary discussions,” he said. “He’s a very, very talented person.”
Martinson also spoke highly of Wilz, who he helped the Killdeer School Board hire.
“He really has something to say but he is quiet,” he said. “I understand why he didn’t wow you but you have to peel the layer back to see what’s there.”
Laura Schuster, who has spent seven years as superintendent of Groton Area School District in South Dakota, was also selected to be interviewed.
“She is more focused on her school district than a state-wide issue vs. Rob Lech,” Martinson said. “She is assertive, very strong on the curriculum, the education side, not so good at the budget or the management. The budget is not her strength.”
But she currently has a school with Blue Ribbon accreditation and the average ACT score at her high school was a 24, he said.
The board also discussed the possibility of hiring an interim superintendent from the top four candidates, after members said they were disappointed no one applied from a larger district.
Besides Saxberg, the following candidates did not move forward in the selection process:
* Kurt Eddy, Jamestown, who spent eight years as superintendent of the New Rockford-Sheyenne district.
* Jeremiah Olson, Underwood, Minn., who most recently spent three years as superintendent in Underwood, but also has three years as superintendent in Pingree-Buchanan.
* Jon Kringen, Long Prairie, Minn., who since 2008 has been superintendent in Long Prairie.
The board also decided each of the four who will interview will start with a noon lunch at the Buffalo City Rotisserie Grill, followed by a tour of Jamestown and the schools, with a break before an interview in front of the full board at 5:15 p.m. that night. The interviews will be from Jan. 15 to Feb. 9.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.com