St. Paul school board votes Gothard in as new superintendent

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St. Paul Public Schools voted 5-2 to elect Joe Gothard as the new superintendent after a long and extensive search.

“I’m humbled by your belief in me,” he said via Skype to district leaders and reporters at district headquarters, “I know this is one of the most challenging jobs in the state of Minnesota.”

The search for a new superintendent started last summer after Valeria Silva was fired without cause over disagreements about budgets, student discipline and declining enrollment.

There were 64 applicants, 13 candidates and eventually two finalists: Philadelphia school district’s chief academic support officer Dr. Cheryl Logan and Burnsville-Eagan-Savage superintendent Dr. Joe Gothard.

Previously a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent in Madison, Wisconsin, Gothard took his current role as a suburban district leader in 2013.

“We want someone who understands us, who gets us,” said Jon Schumacher.

“We are both an urban district and a Minnesota district,” added Steve Marchese. “To me, it is a very close call.”

Chue Vue said both candidates are hard workers and “they make people around them better, and they will be greatly missed by their districts.”

The decision was made after leaders gathered feedback from parents, students and other stakeholders. And now that Gothard is expected to take the interim’s place this summer, his transition will have to be swift.

“To have someone who understands how people think and feel here in this area and what’s needed to bring those people together with consensus solutions and visions is critical,” Schumacher said

Gothard will be tested in his ability to restore an already diagnosed and divided district that will determine if he can live up to his reputation.

“I’ve been known to not shy away from challenges,” Gothard said.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman released the following statement: 

“I congratulate Joe for his selection as the new superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools,” said Mayor Coleman. “Joe’s extensive experience in public education and focus on innovating for today’s learners will serve our students well.
“The success of our children is tied to the strength of their education. I have spent the past decade as Mayor working to ensure that kids have opportunities before and after school to keep learning. Saint Paul Public Schools have long been a vital partner in that work, from the creation of the Sprockets Network to Library Go. Thank you to the school board for their diligence in making this selection. I look forward to partnering with Joe as we strive for successful educational outcomes for all of our children.”