Interim superintendent deal inked

A negotiating team of the Princeton School District has reached a tentative agreement to hire Julia Espe as interim superintendent to lead the district into the new year

The school board had voted at its November 27 meeting to enter into negotiations with Julia Espe, assistant superintendent of St. Cloud Area Community Schools, where she is in her seventh year on the job.

A negotiating team consisting of Princeton district Director of Human Resources Brenda Alexander, and school board members Deb Ulm, Craig Johnson and board chair Kathy Kraft interviewed Espe for nearly an hour Monday evening this week.

Kraft said Tuesday morning that Alexander will now put the tenative terms into an agreement with the goal of getting Espe’s signature on it in time for the school board to act on it at its Dec. 18 meeting.

If the board approves a final contract, Espe would serve as interim superitendent during the spring semester while the School Board searches for a permanent superintendent to replace Richard Lahn, who will become superintendent of the Alexandria School District on January 1, 2013.

Jan. 8 is the latest that Espe would begin working as interim superintendent for Princeton, according to Kraft.

The Board’s goal is to have a permanent superintendent hired and on the job on July 1.

The school board had interviewed Espe and John Tritabaugh on Nov. 26 before agreeing to negotiate a contract with Espe. Tritabaugh has been interim superintendent for the Kimball school district since 2006, and before that he was superintendent of the Albany school district 1992-2006.

Chuck Nagle, who will take a seat this coming year as a newly elected member of the school board, talked to board members during the public forum section of the November 27 board meeting. He noted how the consultant for finding a new superintendent had cautioned the board not to peg its interim superintendent to become the regular superintendent later as that would limit getting “high quality” candidates for the permanent position.  School District human resources director Brenda Alexander told the board that Espe would only seek the job as the permanent superintendent if asked.

Espe’s background

Espe holds a doctorate of education and leadership from St. Mary’s University, Minneapolis; a sixth year certificate from Winona State University; a Master of Arts in gifted education and curriculum development from St. Thomas University in St. Paul; and a BS degree in education from the University of Illinois, Champaign.

Before taking her current job as assistant superintendent in St. Cloud, Espe had been principal at Lakeville North High School and principal at Austin High school.

Prior experience included curriculum director at Austin Public Schools, K-12 gifted and talented education coordinator at Rochester Public Schools, post secondary instructor at Winona State University and Hamline University, and teacher in in Austin, Owatonna and Southland Public Schools.

Espe is co-founder of Math Masters of Minnesota, which promotes critical thinking and problem solving abilities in mathmatics.