4 finalists selected for RTR Schools supt. position

TYLER — The process of hiring a superintendent in the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton School District is continuing to move forward as four finalists were recently selected to interview for the vacancy.

The finalists include: Marlene Johnson, superintendent at Tipton Community School District (Tipton, Iowa); Scott Klaudt, superintendent at Willow Lake School District (Willow Lake, South Dakota); John Dotson, superintendent at BOLD School District (Olivia) and David Marlette, former superintendent at Watertown-Mayer School District (Watertown).

The four candidates, chosen from a pool of eight applicants, will begin interviewing on Monday and Tuesday — two each day, beginning at 4:30 p.m. — at the RTR High School library.

“I think they have four good candidates to look at,” RTR interim superintendent Lee Warne said. “The board developed the criteria of what they’re looking for in a superintendent before they even advertised the position. That was part of the application process sent out by the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA). So any potential candidates could see what the board is seeking. My guess is that during the interviews, the board will say this is what we want and evaluate the candidates based on that criteria.”

Warne said MSBA has been assisting in the superintendent hiring process, but that the RTR School Board will take sole control over the effort moving forward.

“MSBA provides that service, so they’ve been helping in the process,” he said. “They actually offer three different levels of service. They provide a procedural process for school boards to follow and they handle all the applications and paperwork — all of that back office work — and then bring it to the school board. They make recommendations, but then the school board takes it from there.”

Warne said the RTR School board met on Wednesday to select the four individuals to interview. After the interviews are held on Monday and Tuesday, he anticipates that the board will decide who to bring back for a second round of interviews to be held on March 12

Warne, whose contract as interim superintendent is on a day-to-day basis, has overseen the process and told the board that he is willing to be flexible during the transition process.

“My contract is one-day-at-a-time — that’s the way it’s been since the beginning,” he said. “Typically, the hiring cycle for a superintendent is to hire in the spring and they start the first day of July. Logically, I told them I’d stay the year if they want me to, depending on who they hire and the circumstances involved.”

Though it was a tough decision, Warne said he will be leaving the Marshall area after living there for more than 25 years.

“The ‘For Sale’ sign went up at our home (Friday),” he said. “It’s kind of exciting and sad at the same time. But my folks are resorters on the lake where we’re moving (near Bemidji) and I’ve been going to this area for about 50 years now. Our son also lives a half-mile from us, so it’s really nice.”

While speculating, Warne anticipates that the board will make its final decision after interviews are completed — on the evening of Mar. 12 — or potentially after discussing it at the regular board meeting on March 21.

“Hiring a superintendent is the most important decision a school board ever makes,” Warne said.

All interviews are open to the public.