Barton a semi-finalist for vacant position at WPS; was not chosen for final round of interviews

By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

In a letter addressed to his staff, Caledonia schools superintendent Ben Barton let his team know that he was a semi-finalist for the vacant superintendent job at Winona public schools.

“The purpose of this communication is to let you know that I am a semifinalist for the Winona Area public schools superintendent position,” the communication stated. “It is important for you to know that I did not seek this out as I love my role as Superintendent in Caledonia. I am so proud of what we have been able to accomplish together over the last several years. I am in a position that I get recruited on occasion to consider applying for various superintendent positions across the state. Up until now I have not considered any opportunity presented to me.  The Winona position is different as it fits with my goals personally and professionally for where I currently am in my life. Although I was recruited, the interview process will be very competitive as other strong candidates are being considered.”

Barton along with Bill Gronseth, superintendent of Duluth public schools; Dan Frazier, superintendent of Litchfield public schools; Jon Ellerbush, superintendent of Royalton Public schools, LaDarla (Lolli) Haws, superintendent of Racine, Wis. public schools; and Rich Dahman, superintendent of Medford school district, had an hour-long interview each with the WPS board last Wednesday and Thursday evening.

Barton’s comments

Barton’s letter to staff continued: “My biggest hesitation in applying was that I do not want to cause anxiety to our team or come off as disrespectful in any way. I really do value and care for all of  you and our Caledonia Area Public Schools team. All of that said, I know I would regret it if I didn’t at least try. Therefore, I am going to  present my best self to them and it will be a fit or it won’t. If I am not selected, you will be stuck with me. If that is the case, I will continue in a role I love and will be even more motivated to be a better leader for you, our students, and community.”

At a meeting late Thursday March 23, Winona school board members unanimously selected Bill Gronseth, Lolli Haws and Rich Dahman as the finalists for the district’s vacant superintendency.

Interviews for the three were expected to be held on Monday, March 27, with the final choice expected to be made later that evening.