BRAINERD — After more than three hours of deliberation, members of the Brainerd School Board voted 4-2 in the early hours of Friday, April 15 to offer the superintendent position to Heidi Hahn.
But Hahn, Brainerd’s current assistant superintendent of public schools, has yet to take the job.
When council chairwoman Ruth Nelson called Hahn to tell her the news, Hahn said she should think about it because the district deserves a leader that the whole council can support.
Hahn’s comments come after Thursday night’s live meeting saw board members debate between her and Eric Schneider, with Tom Haglin, Kevin Boyles and Nelson originally defending Schneider. Nelson ultimately voted for Hahn, as she said the other three board members — Jana Shogren, Charles Black Lance and Sarah Speer — made it clear they would have trust issues with hiring Hahn. Schneider.
The trust issues described by board members appear to stem from Schneider’s resignation from the Minnetonka School District, where he served as associate superintendent until 2020. Schneider resigned during a closed session of the Minnetonka School Board .
Specific details of the resignation were not available Thursday night, but members pointed to Schneider’s work as a consultant for other school districts during his service as associate superintendent as a contributing factor. Schneider had previously told the school board that his contract allowed for this work.
Members of the Brainerd School Board deliberated late into the night between two superintendent candidates on Thursday, April 14.
After interviewing Hahn, Schneider and Karsten Anderson this week, board members sat in a stalemate Thursday night between Hahn and Schneider.
Schneider is the academic director of Chicago-based education company EdIncites.
Three board members argued for each nominee, with Haglin, Nelson and Boyles pushing for Schneider, while Black Lance, Shogren and Speer opted for Hahn.
Haglin praised Schneider’s vision and how his innovation could propel the neighborhood into a bright future, taking Brainerd from good to great.
Charles Black Lance praised the trust, noting that he knows the students, the staff and – himself – trusts Hahn, but doesn’t feel like it’s come to that with Schneider.
Both Haglin and Nelson noted Schneider’s eagerness to increase enrollment and felt he could do it, while Black Lance said he felt Hahn was the more student-centric candidate.
Haglin, Boyles and Nelson also talked about Schneider and Hahn working together — Hahn continuing in his current role as assistant superintendent — as a dynamic duo. Hahn’s connections in the district, coupled with Schneider’s visionary leadership, could take the district far, they said.
Black Lance, Shogren and Speer spoke about Hahn’s establishment in the District and the relationships she has built and the trust she has earned during her 26 years in the District. During his interview, Schneider said that one thing he wished he could have had if hired was a head start on his job at Brainerd. Hahn already has that head start, Shogren said.
While bringing in someone with new ideas comes with risks, Boyles said he’s also worried about continuing with the status quo — not that Hahn would necessarily be that kind of leader, he said, but even if a new person is uncomfortable, this is often where the greatest growth comes from.
Nelson said early in the deliberations that she could probably be swayed to vote for Hahn, as they were very close in her calculations. Boyles said if Hahn ends up being the pick, he’ll be behind her 100%.
Council members began deliberations just before 9 p.m. Check BrainerdDispatch.com for updates on superintendent selection.
THERESA BOURKE can be reached at [email protected] or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at