Gronseth Not Chosen for Winona Job, Board Members Respond

Julie Kruse
March 28, 2017 10:06 PM

Duluth School Superintendent Bill Gronseth learned Monday that has lost out in the competition for a job with the Winona School District.

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Gronseth was one of three finalists in the superintendent search. This was the sixth time in the past two years that he was up for a new job outside of Duluth. He was a candidate for the Prior Lake-Savage School District position in 2015, a candidate for positions in the states of Washington and Arkansas last year and a finalist for the leadership role with Elk River as well as White Bear Lake.

A spokesman with the Superintendent search firms says the board chose Rich Dahlman of Medford, formerly of Mankato. He added, "Bill was strongly supported as well, but the vote didn't go his way."

Gronseth has worked for the Duluth district since 1997 and has been superintendent since 2012. In December, the Duluth School Board approved a new three-year contract with Gronseth giving him a two percent increase in the first year, amounting to $171,360 beginning this July 1. He would then receive a one percent raise in each of the following two years.

Board member Alanna Oswald issued a statement on Tuesday, which reads, "While most people search for new job beginnings privately, our community is forced to endure the concern that comes with each interview earned by Superintendent Gronseth. People have every right to feel the uncertainty, because it does exist. I, and I'm hopeful our entire school board, will remain focused on the interests of our schools for the community, as the business of the school district remains the same. Superintendent Gronseth has job security with his new contract through 2020. I only wish Gronseth happiness, regardless of if he chooses to pursue a new career opportunity."

On Tuesday, board member Harry Welty sat down with Eyewitness News to share his thoughts about the news.

"I don't blame the superintendent for testing the waters," Welty said. "We have some excellent administrators who will take care of the district if the superintendent should move elsewhere. My personal and political inclination is to wish him well, whatever his future might be "

Board member Art Johnston declined to go on camera, issuing a statement instead, which reads, "The superintendent has a right to apply for a job anywhere he wants. It's a free country. I think we have to focus our attention on the issues facing our schools like declining enrollment, budget deficits year after year and paying millions of dollars out of the general fund. Whether he's here or not, we as a community have to start addressing these issues and find a way to stop them. I certainly wish him the best in applying for jobs, and if he stays here, I'm hoping we can sit down and start solving these problems."

In a phone interview, Vice-Chair Rosie Loeffler-Kemp says, "Superintendent Gronseth cares deeply about our district and has continued to be a champion for our public schools, our students, our staff and the duluth community."

Board members Annie Harala, David Kirby and Nora Sandstad declined to comment.

Superintendent Gronseth declined an interview, instead sharing his Facebook post. In it, Gronseth said he started applying for positions elsewhere during his contract negotiations. Since then, he has "withdrawn his name from other searches still in progress."

It concluded with, "those who know me, know that I take my work seriously and that I care deeply about education."


Julie Kruse

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