MPS picks long-time Minnesota educator to be next superintendent

It took about an hour for the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) board to pick the district's next leader, with an overwhelming majority of board members choosing current East Carver County Schools superintendent, Dr. Lisa Sayles-Adams over Dr. Sonia Stewart, a deputy superintendent in Tennessee.

"She is knowledgeable about Minnesota school budgets. She is ready to hit the ground running," said board member Lori Norvell during Friday's special meeting.

A couple of board members spoke about the benefits of having an outsider like Stewart bring a fresh perspective to the district's challenges.

"I'm just very concerned about not being able to shake the ground and speak the truth and ruffle some feathers," said board member Adriana Cerrillo.

While others favored Sayles-Adams and her previous experience in MPS as a parent, teacher and principal of an alternative school.

"She is a holder of history and in my opinion, she is here to continue working on work she has been doing for a long time," said board member Joyner Emmerick.

Sayles-Adams will have her work cut out for her, with the district facing a potential financial crisis, declining enrollment, and decisions about whether to close or consolidate some schools.

However, board members believe her familiarity with Minnesota and Minneapolis will help her get off to a fast start.

"The listen, learn and lead is what grabbed me," said board chair Sharon El-Amin.

"We need someone who knows the community, who knows the city and who's willing to do the work that needs to be done within our public schools," added El-Amin.

The school board will now negotiate a start date and salary for Sayles-Adams. 

Her contract must then be approved by the board as well, which could happen at its meeting in a couple of weeks.