by Jim Boyle
The Elk River Area School Board has voted 7-0 to enter into negotiations with Sauk Rapids-Rice School Superintendent Dr. Daniel Bittman.
The decision came Thursday night, shortly after the board concluded its last finalist interview with Bittman and a straw poll revealed unanimous support for the Minnesota native who was the first in his family to attend college.
After the vote, School Board Chairman Shane Steinbrecher called Bittman told him the news on a speaker phone.
“That is fabulous,” Bittman said. “I am so excited to be part of your team.”
The next step is to negotiate a contract, which will beging next week after the President’s Day holiday.
Bittman has been an educator, administrator and director in Minnesota and Nevada and was the Minnesota Association of School Administrators’ pick for the 2016 Minnesota Superintendent of the Year. He also served as the assistant commissioer of education for the Minnesota Department of Education.
“I like his diversity of experience,” board member Gregg Peppin said. “He has worked at a large district, a midsize district and done a number of other things.”
The district’s search has been conducted with the services of School Exec Connect, whom the district hired in 2016.
That search was narrowed to a field of six candidates Monday, Feb. 6, with the board naming three final candidates Wednesday, Feb. 8.
The three finalists, Bittman, Dr. Mike Funk of Albert Lea and Mr. William Gronseth of Duluth spent a day with students, district staff, teachers and community members as the final interview process unfolded Feb. 13 through Feb 16.
The superintendent of schools position opened in June 2016, due to the retirement of Dr. Mark Bezek. Bruce Watkins has been serving as the interim superintendent for District 728 schools. He will complete his services June 30, 2017.