The District 196 School Board on Monday voted unanimously to offer the superintendent position to Mary M. Kreger, who has been serving as interim superintendent since July 1.
“We were confident in appointing Mary to be the interim superintendent when Jane Berenz announced her retirement last March and we have since witnessed her ability to do the job and do it well these past few months in the interim role,” said Board Chairperson Jackie Magnuson. “She is a problem-solver, a relationship builder, a skilled communicator and strong educational leader with a vision centered on student learning and achievement.”
Magnuson headed the board’s superintendent hiring subcommittee that met earlier this month with parent representatives from every school in the district, members of the superintendent’s cabinet and representatives of the employee bargaining groups in the district. The subcommittee shared a list of qualities and characteristics that were developed with input from staff and the public when Berenz was hired as superintendent in 2009.
“All three groups agreed that these qualities and characteristics are still relevant and we should want them in our next superintendent,” said Vice Chairperson Joel Albright, who served on the subcommittee. “One thing we heard very clearly is we want someone who is familiar with the district and can hit the ground running with the challenges we are facing.” Those challenges include a $25 million budget shortfall over the next three years, the retirement of key staff members and the likelihood of holding levy and bond referendum elections next year.
At a special meeting in September, board members agreed they should try to speed the process of hiring a superintendent and should look to hire someone who is familiar with the district because of the important decisions facing the district. Magnuson said the board did not see a need to hire a consultant to conduct an extensive search, which could take several months and cost tens of thousands of dollars to complete.
Magnuson and Albright reported on their meetings with parents and staff during a special board meeting held prior to the regular board meeting Oct. 22. Following their report, the board approved a motion to offer the position to Kreger and authorized the subcommittee to negotiate a contract with her. Magnuson said the contract will be brought back to the full board for approval at the Nov. 5 regular board meeting.
“We have heard very clearly from the community that Mary is doing a great job,” said board Treasurer Art Coulson.
“I am absolutely thrilled to take on this position,” Kreger said. “We have huge challenges, but we can do it because we’ve got the right people and we’ve got the teamwork and collaboration to make a difference for all of our kids every single day.”
Kreger has nearly 30 years of experience in education, including the last 13 in District 196. She was hired as director of special education in 2005 and served in that role until taking over as interim superintendent in July. Prior to coming to District 196, Kreger worked for South Washington County Schools for 13 years as a special education teacher, coordinator and supervisor. She started her career as a substitute teacher, working in Minneapolis, Lakeville and in District 196 schools.
Kreger has a master’s degree in special education and a specialist degree in education administration from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and earned her superintendent licensure from Minnesota State in 2013.