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Mark Porter named District 833 superintendent

Mark Porter

School District 833 Assistant Superintendent Mark Porter will be the new superintendent when Tom Nelson retires at the end of the school year.

The school board met Tuesday night, Jan. 6, to interview Porter who currently heads human resources and legal services and Rick Spicuzza who is assistant superintendent for curriculum and assessment.

After one-hour interviews with each candidate the board was surveyed by Ken Dragseth, search consultant for School Exec Connect, board members Jim Gelbmann, Ellen Ayers, Denise Kapler and Ron Kath supported Porter.

Board members Marsha Adou and Tracy Brunnette said they wanted to extend the superintendent search outside the district.

Board Member Leslee Boyd supported Spicuzza.

"My perception of Mark is that he will build on what we've already done," Gelbmann said.

The district had "horrible" relationships with the district's bargaining groups before Porter headed negotiations.

"Tonight, he had very specific proposals," Kath said.

Kath praised Porter's ability to bring people together and find consensus. He is a quality person and hiring him will save the district the cost of searching further, he said.

Ayers said Porter understands the issues and discussed innovative ideas during his interview.

"Rick is a rising star," Boyd said. "But I support Mark as well."

Brunnette said she did not hear specific examples of leadership initiatives in response to her question.

Adou said she had seen negative written comments about Porter from interviews with staff members and from the meeting where candidates talked with the public, adding it's tempting to want to see what other candidates might apply.

Immediately after the meeting, Board Chair Kath telephoned Porter to tell him of the board's decision. "He's delighted," he said.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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