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Dist. 861 superintendent finalist in Forest Lake search (04/29/2009)
By Cynthya Porter
District 861 Superintendent Paul Durand is getting a long look from the Forest Lake School District, a St. Paul Pioneer Press story announced Tuesday after the district revealed a slate of semifinalists for its superintendency.

According to a press release issued by Forest Lake, Durand is among six semifinalists who are advancing to public and board interviews this weekend as the district seeks to replace its superintendent retiring June 30.

Durand has been with District 861 for five years, but recently announced he will entertain other opportunities after board members largely set aside his request for a talk about his future here.

Stacey Mounce Arnold, whose campaign for the school board included what amounted to an anti-Durand agenda two years ago, obtained the position of board chair this year and has been harshly critical of Durand both in public and in written communications.

With Arnold creating back-channels to employees and other groups that exclude Durand and publicly challenging his advice based on feedback from those groups, their relationship has visibly worsened since January. Recently, Arnold has held private conversations with teachers union officials and criticized Durandís performance to a newspaper reporter as the district maneuvers its first budget cuts since Durand started five years ago.

Though Durand would not comment on his relationship with Arnold, he said he is interested in continuing with the hard work ahead in this district if the board would like to continue working with him.

But on the chance that they will not agree to renegotiate his contract in July, Durand said it is in his familyís best interest for him to ensure his continued employment in a district that can benefit from his service.

The superintendent search in Forest Lake will continue with board and public interviews this weekend, after which the group will be narrowed to two or three finalists.

If Durand is one of the finalists, Forest Lake officials will visit District 861 next week, and hold another round of interviews the second week of May.

Forest Lake is a metro area district of 7,113 students and 1,000 staff with a $75 million dollar budget. 

 

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