Updated: Baumann emerges as preferred candidate in District 194

School Board to talk about next steps on Tuesday

It didn’t take long for the Lakeville Area School Board to come to agreement as to who was its preferred superintendent candidate on Friday night.

Current District 194 Director of Business Services Michael Baumann emerged as the favored candidate of each of the six board members during about a 45-minute discussion that started about 7 p.m. at the Crystal Lake Education Center.

Board members repeatedly said they saw a different Michael Baumann today during his interviews with community members and school groups in the morning and early afternoon and during the School Board’s interview with Baumann later in the day.

The board agreed that it would talk during its Tuesday, April 25, meeting about the next steps in the process, which would likely entail a resolution to enter into contract negotiations with Baumann.

Baumann, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, came to District 194 in 2013 after serving nearly nine years in St. Paul Public Schools, where he served in several positions, ultimately second-in-command as that district’s deputy superintendent.

Other candidates for the position were Jeffrey Holmberg, Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools assistant superintendent, and Ann Schultz, Mosinee (Wisconsin) School District superintendent.

While board members praised the “teaching and learning” experience of Holmberg and Schultz, they cited a variety of skills and attributes Baumann possessed as they went around the room one-by-one to talk about the candidates.

Board Member Michelle Volk started the review of her impressions of the candidates, which was followed by others. By the time, the fourth board member spoke, it was clear the Baumann was separating himself from the other two.

One of the district’s other finalists, Roger Rindo, superintendent, Oconomowoc (Wisconsin) Area School District, removed his name from consideration prior to the day-long interviews on Friday.

Board members did not mention the possible need to hire another top cabinet position if Baumann were to get the job as a detractor.

Board Member Kathy Lewis said she didn’t sleep last night, waking up about four or five times, because she was so interested to see how the process would play out.

Lewis was the first board member to say Baumann was her preferred candidate citing his ability work with a team and his experience.

Board Member Judy Keliher read off a long list of positive comments regarding Baumann that were forwarded from community members and school personnel during their interviews earlier in the day.

Those included his clear vision for the future of the district, trustworthiness, a track record of addressing issues head on, his collaborative nature, and knowledge of finance.

“Those are very strong messages,” Keliher said. “Michael is the right leader and has the right leadership style for this board.”

Keliher said one teacher called Baumann “authentic, not fake or rehearsed.” She said one parent called him “the real deal.” Another said “hire him.”

Board Member Bob Erickson noted that former Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent David Jennings had the same military to finance director to superintendent career arc as Baumann was pursuing.

Erickson noted that Jennings was widely regarded as bringing stability and innovation to a district that needed it.

Board Member Jim Skelly said Baumann provides the district with the best opportunity for success.

He said the Bloomington and White Bear Lake districts have superintendents who were previously finance directors.

Skelly cited a positive of Baumann’s comments was that it was his goal to not have budget cuts in the district ever again.

Erickson said Baumann expressed his intent for fiscal accountability and owning the budget as superintendent.

“I appreciated that,” Erickson said.

Erickson said he counted Baumann’s residence in the community since 2005 as a positive, saying that gave him insight into the community’s value system.

Other strengths Erickson cited were Baumann’s understanding of the district and the respect he has among staff and the community.

Lind, a former elementary principal in the district, said Baumann’s biggest challenge would be the education side of it. Board members said Baumann acknowledged that as an area he would need to work on.

Keliher didn’t see that as much of an issue due to the expertise of Director of Teaching and Learning Emily McDonald.

If he is hired, Baumann would replace Superintendent Lisa Snyder who announced in November she would resign when her contract expires June 30.

Snyder was superintendent for five years.