BEA names an interim leader
The search for an interim superintendent is over and the man selected for the job will be familiar to many in the area.
Following the interview of candidate Dr. Jerry Jensen, the School Board voted to offer Jensen a contract, which he accepted. His employment will begin Jan. 1 and is scheduled to end June 30.
Jensen served as a part-time superintendent for United South Central Schools from 2009-2016. Most recently, he served as an interim superintendent at LeSueur-Henderson Schools from Jan. through June of 2018.
“The years of experience that he (Jensen) has speak for themselves,” board chairman Jesse Haugh said. “Knowing what he has done in a neighboring school district that mirrors us, with similar communities, also speaks volumes and I think he is the type of person the school district should have.”
Ironically, Jensen began his education career in Goodhue, which is where outgoing superintendent Evan Gough was recently hired to be their superintendent.
Jensen spent six years in Goodhue as a secondary mathematics teacher from 1972-1978 before spending one year as a secondary principal at North Crawford High School. He returned to Goodhue in the fall of 1979 and was the secondary principal for five years before becoming the Goodhue Superintendent in 1984.
He remained in Goodhue until the fall of 1992. At that time he took the job of superintendent at Lake City and stayed there until 2007. Following a two-year retirement, Jensen was hired by USC and served as superintendent from 2009-2016.
“I have heard multiple comments from different people about what a fabulous job he did at USC and what a genuine person he is,” board member Shelia Ripley commented. “It is great to have that kind of positive feedback.”
When asked to describe his leadership style when resolving conflicts or making difficult decisions, Jensen stated, “We have made some difficult decisions over the years and I think any time you can build a consensus with the parties involved, especially if there is conflict, that is best.”
Jensen added he believes one of his strengths is good communication skills.
“When you deal with people, you always want to be respectful,” Jensen explained. “Sometimes you don’t agree with, or like what somebody has done, but they are still good people and you still need to approach them in a respectful manner, and I try and do that.”
Part of the interview dealt with a superintendents’ relationship with staff members and what qualities that Jensen would look for in the hiring of administrators and teachers.
“Number one, I think they have to love kids, if you don’t absolutely love kids it is tough, because some days it is hard,” Jensen said. “Beyond that, I look for people that have a personality where they are going to be able to connect with students. I try and tell my people that it is all about relationships.”
Jensen also stressed his desire to live in the community that he works in and to be involved in different organizations. He stated that he likes to try and be around the school building and be available to staff who may have concerns or questions for him.
“I like to attend ballgames and concerts, it is a good way to get to know people,” Jensen added. “I just marvel at the skills some of these kids have, whether it is musical, drama or athletic, I like to watch them. I find there is often an opportunity, which parents will take, at halftime, to strike up a conversation about something, maybe a concern they have.”
Harold Remme, representing the South Central Service Cooperative, met with the School Board following the interview. He guided the board members through the proposed contract to be offered to Jensen.
The total length of service will be 102 days with an option for 10 additional days. The work week will be four days, from Monday noon until Friday noon. Remme also explained what was and what was not included in the contract. The daily rate of pay equals $625.
The total cost of the interim contract based on 112 work days is $80,880 compared to the cost of the current contract which is $97,380.
“I think if you are looking for an interim superintendent, he fits the bill,” Haugh noted. “I was ecstatic when I heard he was interested, because he is exactly the type of person that this district needs for awhile.”