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NRHEG school board searches for new superintendent

Published 1:29pm Friday, April 19, 2013

NEW RICHLAND — Though the school has a superintendent in place, the New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva school board is moving forward with interviews to possibly hire a new person for that position.

At a meeting Thursday evening, members of the school board interviewed four candidates for the district’s superintendent position. The board narrowed it to two finalists, who will be interviewed Thursday.

Board member John Harrington said the school’s superintendent, Kevin Wellen, has served the district well but has also made it known that he would like to move to a larger district someday.

“We knew that all along, and as time went on, his search for a job became more evident,” Harrington said. “Our duty as a board is to be proactive, but he’s done a good job and our district is in very good shape.”

Wellen has interviewed with several other school districts in the past year, and Harrington said the board knows he would like to go to a bigger district closer to his hometown of Sartell, near St. Cloud.

On Friday, Wellen said he had no comment on the issue and also said he is not currently a candidate for a job at any other school district. Wellen’s contract extends through June 30, at which time the board could offer him another contract or could choose to hire another person.

“People are always trying to better themselves, and there’s no hard feelings,” Harrington said. “We have to look after our school district and have somebody in place.”

The four candidates interviewed Thursday were Dennis Goodwin, a superintendent from South Dakota, Kathleen Mortensen, an administrator from the metro area, Gregory Schmidt a superintendent from west central Minnesota, and Tami Martin, a charter school director from central Minnesota.

The two candidates chosen for further interviews were:

• Dennis Goodwin, superintendent at Platte-Geddes School District in Platte, S.D. Goodwin has been the superintendent there for one year and has 10 years of experience as a math, science and business teacher at a school in Woodbury. He also has 20 years of business experience, according to the NRHEG school’s website.

• Kathleen Mortensen, a district administrator at Brooklyn Center Public Schools in Brooklyn Center. She has been an administrator there for three years. Previously she worked for 10 years as an administrator in Blaine. Other positions she held include assistant principal in Cambridge and nine years as a special education teacher.

The two final candidates will be interviewed Thursday, and the public is welcome to attend. Harrington said if one candidate stands out then the board will hire them so they could start this summer.

“It’s very exciting for us; change is not a bad thing,” Harrington said. “It’s heartening to know you’ve got a lot of people our there who are capable and passionate about what they do.”