The work of finding Mankato’s next superintendent began in earnest Thursday.

School Board members held a study session with Ken Dragseth, a representative from School Exec Connect, the consulting firm hired by the board last week. In little more than an hour, the board ironed out a search timeline that begins next week and should result in a contract offer by early May.

“It’s an aggressive schedule,” said board chair Ann Hendricks. “But I think we knew it would be. We just want to keep moving forward.”

In the coming days, the district will launch a community feedback tool on its Web site, isd77.org. During the second week of February, School Exec Connect officials will meet with various staff and stakeholder groups to create a “new superintendent profile.”

During that time, the district will also host a larger community forum in the evening and present a final superintendent profile to the board on Feb. 17.

By April 14, Dragseth said his firm should be prepared to present a list of five or six candidates to the board. After that, board members will conduct several interviews with each candidate — both formal and informal — and make a final decision by the end of April.

The position to be officially vacated by current superintendent Ed Waltman on June 30 is already being advertised in the Minnesota Association of School Administrators’ and Minnesota School Boards Association’s trade publications. Dragseth said the position will be more widely circulated in the coming weeks and that the search will canvas local, regional and national candidates.

“We’re already getting names,” Dragseth told board members. “Maybe they won’t match (the board’s) criteria down the road. But we are collecting names.”

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