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WDC down to 3 superintendent candidates

Superintendents Lee Westrum, Kevin Wellen and Christopher Mills will be in Wadena on Saturday to interview for the Wadena-Deer Creek superintendent position being vacated by Dr. Virginia Dahlstrom.

The Wadena-Deer Creek School Board will interview the three candidates Saturday morning at the district office in Wadena. The board may offer one of the candidates the position at that time, but the selection could also be made at the board's regular February meeting Tuesday or at a later date.

All three candidates are currently working in Minnesota. Westrum has been superintendent in Benson, Minn., since 2007. Wellen has served at New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva (NRHEG) since 2007. Mills has been at Stephen-Argyle Central since 2000.

"We offer it to one person contingent on negotiations," Wadena-Deer Creek School Board Chairman Steve Techam said. "We had three different groups of community members come up with 12 questions for the candidates. You get an impression on their knowledge and how they would fit into the community. We want someone who will be a leader in the community."

Candidates for the position have been recommended to the board by BKB Associates. The board began discussing the hiring process in November.

BKB, which assisted in the superintendent search that brought Dahlstrom to Wadena, advertised immediately after being hired again in December.

"They have taken a lot of extra stuff off our hands in finding us a lot of quality candidates," WDC School Board Member Pete Hayes said.

Techam pointed out that routinely, after the board makes an offer to a candidate, a negotiating period follows and the board is given time to consult before deciding to accept or reject the offer.

Dahlstrom has been superintendent of the WDC district since 2008. Her current contract with WDC expires at the end of June.

School Board Member Kent Schmidt was involved in the hiring process while working at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He considers his involvement with the search for a new district superintendent "very exciting" and likes the active involvement by community and board members.

Schmidt also praised the work Dahlstrom has done in the last five years.

"I think she has been a great leader," Schmidt said. "She has set the bar for what we want. She has been very caring about our kids, and I think she also cares a lot about this community."