Schools Notebook: New associate superintendents include two Southwest principals

Plus: More principal moves and flurry of candidate filings for School Board elections

A class of four new Minneapolis Public Schools associate superintendents announced May 23 included two Southwest-area principals.

The district is both expanding and restructuring its cadre of associate superintendents. Instead of three positions divided geographically, there are now seven positions, each assigned a portfolio of 10–12 schools apportioned by type.

Windom Dual Immersion School Principal Lucilla Yira and Anthony Middle School Principal Jackie Hanson are two of the principals shifting into an associate superintendent role. They are joined by Laura Cavender, principal of Pillsbury School in Northeast, and Ron Wagner, principal of Anne Sullivan Communication Center in South Minneapolis.

Yira will lead the district’s magnet schools, Hanson is in charge of middle schools and Cavender is tasked with oversight of the district’s lagging high-priority schools.

Wagner and Stephen Flisk, currently associate superintendent for Area B schools in the southeast part of the city, are placed in charge of the K–8 schools. Wagner’s purview is the western half of the city; Flisk’s is the eastern half.

Cecilia Saddler will lead all of the city’s high schools, a change from her current role as associate superintendent of Area C in Southwest Minneapolis. Saddler is a former principal of South High School.

Charge of the district’s alternative schools goes to Associate Superintendent Sara Paul, who currently heads the Office of Achievement and Innovation.

Michael Thomas, associate superintendent of Area A schools in North Minneapolis, moves into the role of chief of schools, a new position created by Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson. Thomas will direct the work of the other associate superintendents.

“The new structure clearly defines the associate superintendent as the primary supervisor and coach for school principals,” Johnson said in a written statement announcing the new positions. “We need associate superintendents to spend significantly more time in the schools, overseeing principal performance and helping develop their instructional leadership capacity.”

The district announcement described the moves as “cost-neutral.” The changes will be offset by a reduction of school improvement specialist and instructional lead positions at district headquarters. 


Barton principal takes St. Paul job

Barton Open School Principal Patrick Duffy announced in May he will resign at the end of the school year to take a position with St. Paul Public Schools administration.

As director of leadership development, Duffy will mentor and supervise the St. Paul district’s principals and assistant principals, according to a statement released by the Barton Leadership Council, a parent and staff group.

Duffy led Barton for two years, taking over from veteran principal Steve DeLapp, who retired in June 2012 after two decades at Barton. Duffy previously was assistant principal at South View Middle School in Edina and before that a social studies teacher in Hopkins Public Schools.


More principal moves

At least four Southwest-area schools not losing their principal to another district or a new assistant superintendent position will also see a change in leadership next year.

Principal Renee Montague is set to lead the reopened Cityview site next fall, leaving an opening at Bryn Mawr Elementary, her current posting. Kenwood Community School Principal Cheryl Martin moves next year to Bethune Community School. And at Lake Harriet Community School, Upper Campus Assistant Principal Mary Tilleson is shifting to the Lower Campus, where she’ll take over the principal position from Jan Parrish.

In all, seven Southwest schools will have new principals this fall. That number includes Rhonda Dean, named the new principal of Washburn High School this spring.


Seven file for two at-large board seats

Seven candidates submitted papers to run for two open at-large School Board seats this fall.

That includes two who filed just before the 5 p.m. June 3 filing deadline: Don Samuels, the former Ward 5 alderman, and Andrew Minck, who sought the DFL endorsement but had the weakest support of four citywide School Board candidates at the April city convention.

The endorsements went to incumbent Rebecca Gagnon, who is seeking a second term on the nine-member board and Iris Altamirano. Ira Jourdain fell short of endorsement at the convention but decided to stay in the race.

Doug Mann, who has run repeatedly for the board but never won, and Soren Christian Sorensen are the other citywide candidates.

In other School Board races, District 1 incumbent Jenny Arneson and District 3 candidate Siad Ali will run unopposed. Both are DFL endorsed.

DFL-endorsed District 5 candidate Nelson Inz faces a challenge from Jay Larson, another last-minute filer.