Move gives school board more time in search for full-time replacement
Dr. Jeff Olson was officially hired as interim superintendent of Saint Peter Public Schools after the Saint Peter School Board unanimously approved his contract for the 2019-20 school year at Monday’s regular meeting.
Olson, who served as superintendent here from 2003 to 2014 and still resides in St. Peter, will shift into the role, held by current superintendent, Paul Peterson, on July 1. Peterson, who was recently hired as the new superintendent for Mankato Public Schools, has been the top administrator for Saint Peter Public Schools since replacing Olson at the start of the 2014-15 school year.
“I’m very excited and energized with the opportunity to serve as interim superintendent and also assist the district in their search for a new superintendent,” Olson said. “When the news came out about Paul being named superintendent at Mankato, given the timing of the situation, I wondered if the board here would be considering the interim route. Once I heard they were, I contacted the board chair (Mark Karlsrud) offering to help out in any way I could and he was very receptive to my call.
“I have a lot of good reasons to take this one-year position, including seven really good ones -- my wife (Judy) and I have seven school-aged grandchildren living here in the Saint Peter School District, so I’m really looking forward to the year ahead.”
Since his retirement, Olson has kept connected to education through the consulting firm, True North Consulting Partners, which he co-owns with long-time friend and retired Alexandria superintendent, Dr. Terry Quist. True North Consulting Partners focuses on educational planning and reform, leadership development, strategic planning, school facility planning and management consultation for about 60 school districts across the state of Minnesota. Included in that work, Dr. Olson assisted in superintendent searches with the Moorhead, Morris, Willmar, La Crescent, and Annandale school districts.
During his time as superintendent for Saint Peter Public Schools, Olson was named as Minnesota Superintendent of the Year in 2013. Prior to becoming Saint Peter’s superintendent, he served as Saint Peter High School principal from 1993 to 2003 and also taught social studies at SPHS from 1975 to 1993. He received B.A. degrees in history and political science from Concordia College (Moorhead) and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Mankato State University. He also holds a specialist degree in educational administration and a Ph.D in educational policy and administration from the University of Minnesota.
“We are just delighted to be able to coax Dr. Olson out of retirement for this one-year appointment to help us continue the excellent work Dr. Peterson has done for us,” Mark Karlsrud, Saint Peter School Board chair, said. “Because of Dr. Olson’s continued connection with this community and the work he has continued to do, since his retirement, with his consulting work, we are so fortunate to have someone in this role with his experience and networking ability available to us. It really shifts the timeline for us and really gives us the chance to gain some momentum moving forward as we will have some big decisions to make, as a board, coming up including hiring a new superintendent.”
Karlsrud stated Dr. Olson’s hiring will provide the board with time the rest of this calendar year to have thorough discussions on what the district will be looking for in potential superintendent candidates so that when 2020 rolls around the district will be ready to start identifying and, eventually, interviewing candidates. He feels confident a new superintendent will be hired by next spring and ready to start on July 1, 2020.