CHISHOLM — The Chisholm School Board selected a Side Lake Resident as its top pick to fill the superintendent and elementary principal position being vacated this spring.

In a unanimous vote, the board selected Adrian Norman out of the three finalists and has since made a tentative offer, which is dependent on passing a criminal background check. The decision was made in a special meeting held in the boardroom of Chisholm Elementary.

Janey Blanchard, the current superintendent and fourth through sixth grade principal, is planning on retiring in June.

Blanchard was hired in 2017 as superintendent in Chisholm on a three-year contract. Two years later, during a restructuring of the district’s administration, she took on the additional role of principal at Chisholm Elementary.

Norman, a Hibbing High School alumni, confirmed he accepted the tentative offer from the Chisholm School District. Born in Chisholm, Norman said he had the privilege of student teaching in Chisholm under the direction of Bob McDonald, Tim Scott and Sandy Scott.

As for the other two finalists, Adam Johnson, a principal in the Hill City School District and Ray Villebrun, a Floodwood superintendent and principal, Norman said he’s familiar with both of them as colleagues in a small circle of regional superintendents and principals.

“They are very capable,” Norman added.

The school board conducted an in-house search in the past few months for an individual to fill the vacancy.

Members of the school board interviewed their top six choices out of 11 applicants back in March. From there, the board identified three finalists to be interviewed by a group consisting of teachers, non-certified school staff, the public and students. This past Thursday, the group interviewed Norman, Johnson and Villebrun, posing pre-submitted questions that the district screened with the aid of the Minnesota Department of Education. Data and ranking from the group was then shared with the school board.

Board directors had a final opportunity to weigh in on their choice for the position before taking the matter to a vote on Friday.

Norman and Johnson emerged as the top two, based on ratings brought up in the discussion.

In the end, it appeared to be Norman’s experience that won over the board.

A motion by Chair Bob Rahja to offer the position to Norman was seconded by Director Danielle Randa-Sauter and passed unanimously. The next step after the background check is for the district to negotiate a contract with Norman.


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