by ALEXANDRA RETTER
Winona Senior High School (WSHS) Principal Mark Anderson will soon step down from his current position to serve as principal of Kennedy Secondary School in Fergus Falls, Minn. He will start serving in his new role this July.
Anderson has been with the district for over a decade, serving as Winona Middle School principal before moving to the high school in 2016.
Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) Board member Karl Sonneman said at the board’s May 6 meeting that he would like board members to play more of a role in and have additional oversight of the hiring process for WSHS’s next principal. The School Board follows Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA) processes regarding boards’ functions in school districts, Sonneman said, and he does not agree with the association’s guidance about boards’ roles with hiring staff. A board’s role is to “select and employ one person—the superintendent,” and “delegate the authority to the superintendent to recommend and evaluate all school district staff,” according to MSBA. “It I think is flawed in that it keeps school boards out of very important decisions such as this,” Sonneman said. “The visibility of the high school principal is probably second only to the visibility of the superintendent.”
Sonneman added that he would support a School Board member being included on the team that will interview candidates for the principal position.
School Board Chair Nancy Denzer disagreed, stating that she feels board members hired the superintendent to complete employment work and she feels it will be valuable for the board to continue to receive updates on the process of hiring the new WSHS principal. “But at the end of the day, I personally don’t believe that’s a place for a … board member to sit,” she said of the interview team.
After the district posted the opening for five days so candidates from within the district could apply, per the contract for principals, no internal applications were received, Superintendent Annette Freiheit said. WAPS then posted the opening for candidates outside the district. It will remain open for at least two weeks. In the interim, Freiheit and Human Resources Director Emily Solheid will be among those determining who will be on the interview team, Solheid said. “Superintendent Freiheit is ultimately the supervisor of that individual, so she would make the final decision as to who would sit on that interview team and who the final selection might be,” Solheid said.
Anderson was not immediately available for comment.