Down to the wire: St. Paul Public Schools hires a superintendent


This is a big week for St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS), as the district moves several large and rapid steps further toward hiring a superintendent. The public will get its first look at candidates on Friday and Saturday, at public interviews with semi-finalists. The Board of Education will meet Wednesday night in a special meeting with an agenda of selecting semifinalists and preparing for semifinalist interviews. (See schedule in sidebar – all meetings and interviews are open to the public.)

While there’s no absolute rule about how many semifinalists will be selected, the likely number is six, with three finalists selected from among this group. After all of the interviews are complete, the board will make a decision on its top candidate during the week of November 23, and contract negotiations will follow.


How you can be involved

You can meet the three finalist candidates, hear their presentations and ask questions at receptoins preceding their formal interviews. All interviews are open to the public, though only  Board of Education members will interact with candidates at the interviews. The Board of Education says that feedback forms will be available on paper and online.

All interviews take place at district headquarters, 360 Colborne Avenue. If you can’t get to the interviews, you can watch them online or on television. The finalist interviews (November 16, 18, 19) will be televised – live streamed on the SPPS Web site and rebroadcast on November 20 at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on St. Paul Cable Channel 16.

Translators (Hmong, Somali, Spanish and American Sign Language) will be available for the reception and interviews. Childcare will also be available, but should be reserved in advance:
English: Aquanetta Anderson, 651-767-8105
Hmong: Bee Lee, 651-767-8122
Spanish: Pierre Cejudo, 651-767-8194
Somali: Abdisalam Adam, 651-767-8388


Semi-finalist interviews
Friday, November 13 – 6-9:45 p.m.
Saturday, November 14 – 9 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

Finalist receptions and interviews
Monday, November 16
Wednesday, November 18
Thursday, November 19

Each day’s schedule will be:
2-2:30 p.m. – press conference
5-6:15 p.m. – public reception, including presentation by finalist, question and answer
6:30-8 p.m. – finalist interview by Board of Education

Commitment to the city and school system are high on the wish list for a new superintendent, particularly since the previous superintendent stayed for only three years. Two SPPS administrators and one Minneapolis Public School administrator have been prominently mentioned as candidates, though none has confirmed their candidacy.

  • Valeria Silva is currently chief academic officer for SPPS. She has served as a director of English Language Learner programs, principal, assistant principal, curriculum coordinator, specialist and teacher in the district.

  • Nancy Stachel is currently executive director of elementary education for the district and deputy chief academic officer. She has served as a teacher (including special education for students with emotional/behavioral disorders), a coach, an assistant principal, and principal in the district. Before her career in education, Stachel worked in business.

  • Bernadeia Johnson is currently a deputy superintendent in Minneapolis, after joining the district in 2006 as chief academic officer, and has served as deputy superintendent in Memphis Public Schools. She was a candidate for the St. Paul superintendent position three years ago.

In order to allow full board participation, Vallay Moua Varro will be given a special appointment to begin her term early at tomorrow night’s meeting (November 11). She is filling the balance of former board member Tom Conlon’s term, and the early appointment will allow her to participate fully in the superintendent selection process.

Board member Tom Goldstein, who was not re-elected, tendered his resignation in order to allow the early appointment of Board Member Elect Jean O’Connell to fill the remainder of his term and participate fully in the superintendent selection.

“I want to take an opportunity to thank Mr. Goldstein for his service to the Saint Paul Public Schools and for this gracioius gesture that will allow the Board member who will be working with the next superintendent to make the decision about the selection,” Board chair Kazoua Kong-Thao said. “It is an act of leadership that should be acknowledged and appreciated.”