With a unanimous, resounding “aye,” the Pequot Lakes School Board voted to extend an offer for the superintendent position to Chris Lindholm, the current assistant superintendent for Burnsville-Eagan-Savage Schools.
After final interviews with four finalists Monday night, April 8, the board as a group made a call on speakerphone to Lindholm, who said he accepted the position.
“I think he’s an opportunity to take our district to another level,” board member Kim Bolz-Andolshek said.
“In my opinion,” board member Mike Erholtz said, “any one of the four (finalist candidates) can run this district. I think we are picking the one that can run this district the best and that is what we all have been dying for.”
Lindholm was interviewed Monday along with Dave Endicott, current Eagle View Elementary School principal; Brian Koslofsky, former Pequot Lakes High School dean of students and current superintendent of Bertha-Hewitt Schools; and Kevin Wellen, superintendent at New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Schools.
Earlier Monday, before interviews, the board held a meet-and-greet with all four candidates as well as 15-minute presentations from each candidate, who answered the same four predetermined questions. After each presentation, the audience was able to provide feedback through a survey at computer stations.
Bolz-Andolshek said after interviews that Lindholm had received almost entirely positive ratings on the public survey.
Board members said Endicott was a close second to Lindholm, and several members said they were grateful that while he wasn’t chosen for the position, he’s still in the district.
Lindholm said he was educated at St. Olaf College in Northfield and taught social studies at the same school as his wife in Northfield. He worked as dean of students at Edina High School and later took a position as assistant principal, then principal in Shakopee, before becoming assistant superintendent at Burnsville-Eagan-Savage.
“Our hope is that we can move our two kids up here and be a part of this community for a long time,” Lindholm said during his interview.
During his public presentation prior to interviews, Lindholm told a crowd of around 30 people that one of the reasons the Pequot Lakes district is exciting for him is that it’s smaller, and he has the opportunity to know every staff member. At his current district, he works with a staff of 1,500, he said.
Lindholm was asked how he would prioritize funding. He said the quick answer is to prioritize resources with mission.
“Money is one enormous responsibility in public education, but one we don’t talk about is the time and emotional capacity of our staff,” Lindholm said. The harder conversation regarding funding was not what the district will do, but what it won’t do, he said.
Lindholm also talked about being a leader.
“The leader of a district has to be the lead learner,” he said.
One of Lindholm’s main talking points was a strategic plan for the district, including vision, core values and strategic direction, and “dialing that down to the hallway level.”
Lindholm said strategic planning is one of his strengths, and he’s excited to help drive that process at Pequot Lakes.
In reference to a strategic plan, Bolz-Andolshek spoke to Lindholm about the state of the district.
“A lot of fundamental pieces have been put into place over the last five to six years. I think there’s been a gap there for the last few, but I also think some of these big, basic building blocks have come into place. When we talk about the superintendent search, we’ve kind of put it off. I feel like this is a great opportunity for a new partnership, to start from round one,” she said.
The selection of Lindholm marks the end of a search that was set in motion last November, when the district’s current superintendent, Rick Linnell, submitted his resignation. Linnell’s last day is June 30.
The board has yet to determine a contract and starting date for Lindholm.
The board thanked the community and participants in the search for their involvement, saying it’s the most public involvement they’ve seen.