The Pine City School Board meets to discuss eight candidates presented to them by Ray & Associates.

The Pine City School Board met on May 19 to discuss eight candidates which were presented to them and narrowed down to four from a pool of 26 candidates by Ray & Associates, the superintendent search firm hired by the school district. 

The list, which consisted of applicants from across the country, was narrowed to the five following candidates:

  • Joshua T. Anderson, director of communications and technology for North St. Paul/Maplewood/Oakdale School District, Minnesota

  • Kenneth G. Gagner, superintendent of Braham Area Schools in Braham, Minn. and former elementary school principal at Morris Schools in Morris, Minn.

  • Donita Stepan, superintendent of Thief River Falls, Minn.

  • Dr. Cindy Stolp, interim Pine City High School superintendent and Community Ed. director for Pine City Public Schools

All four have been contacted and have accepted interviews which are tentatively scheduled for May 31 and June 1, the Pine City School Board said in a press release. Stolp was one of two finalists for superintendent when former Pine City Schools Superintendent Curt Tryggestad announced his plans to resign from that position on June 30, 2021. The most recent superintendent, Paula Foley, whom the school board recently created a separation agreement with, was the other candidate at that time. 

When asked what attracted them, numerous applicants cited the Pine City location and size of the school and city. Craig Morris, consultant for Ray & Associates, added, “Any history or controversy did not discourage these individuals from coming forward. They have been versed by the firm or have done their own research.” 

Morris said that all candidates have been fully vetted. 

He added that time is of the essence as two individuals (of the total list of eight) are in other searches, and in one case, one asked another district for a few extra days because they’re specifically interested in Pine City. 

Director of Teaching and Learning Nichole Laven will be coordinating "meet & greet" activities for the four finalists plus tours for those less familiar with our school and community. The school board expresses gratitude to students, staff and community for input in this process, they stated in a press release.


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