Paul Carlson was chosen interim superintendent of the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District during the ACGC Board meeting Monday.
Carlson is expected to serve the district part-time through June 2022. He partially replaces Superintendent Nels Onstad, who is leaving the top ACGC post to join the consultation team at SiteLogiq, a firm that specializes in managing school facility projects and other educational consulting.
The ACGC School Board moved quickly to hire Carlson for the interim position. It met in special session on Oct. 18, during which it heard video conference presentations from three executive search firms.
At that meeting the board chose to contract with the Minnesota School Boards Association, at a cost of $7,600, to help find a new superintendent. As several board members put it, ACGC has worked with MSBA, a statewide school board advocacy group, in previous searches, and recently completed a strategic plan with their consultant. Several board members expressed satisfaction with past services.
Nevertheless, the board was intrigued with the offerings of the firms that were not selected. One firm, SchoolIQ, was competitive in price and is staffed by former school superintendents and business agents. A smaller consulting firm appeared to have a more thorough vetting and community input process, but the price for its level of service was significantly higher; it also appeared to have less experience with school executives.
School IQ is a subsidiary of the consulting firm SiteLogiq which recently hired Onstad to assist the firm with school facility development consultation.
Board members expressed hope that a new full-time superintendent could be in place by the end of the current school year, and in the meantime they moved forward with the search for an interim. Carlson was among several applicants the board reviewed during the Oct. 18 meeting.
Carlson is a former New London-Spicer School superintendent and principal. Since retiring from the NL-S post in 2019, he has been contracting with the Hancock School District part-time through the School Administrative Specialty Services agency. He told the ACGC School Board Monday that he intends to continue the Hancock position on Mondays and Wednesdays, while serving ACGC through the same agency on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while being on call for both districts on Fridays.
The ACGC Board unanimously approved a contract with SASS for 68 days of service from Carlson at a total fee of $51,000.
Carlson has worked in three Minnesota school districts. He began his career as a business education instructor in Sleepy Eye. He and his wife, a retired special education teacher, reside in New London, which is a short commute to the ACGC district.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know the district,” he said, pledging to meet individually with each school board member. He is also meeting with Onstad for orientation during his last week at ACGC.
At his final ACGC Board meeting Monday, Onstad expressed appreciation to the board, administrative team and staff .
“You gave me the opportunity to serve here the last four and a half years,” he told them. “Just being a part of it was a privilege.”
Receptions to bid farewell to Onstad are planned for 7:20 a.m. Wednesday in Grove City, and 7:30 a.m. Thursday at the Atwater school.