While one could argue successfully that it’s always an important time for public school districts everywhere, it seems like an especially important time for the Crookston School District and, specifically, Crookston Public Schools.
    Which makes the hiring of Jeremy Olson as superintendent, to succeed Chris Bates when he retires at the end of this school year, no small matter. It’s quite a large matter, actually.
    Ten people applied for the job, which, the thinking here is, seems like a low number. Six were interviewed, but if you go by the hiring criteria, one of the interviewees, Michael Rowe, didn’t meet the minimum job requirements because he’d never even been a principal. It’s possible he was the most dynamic of the half-dozen applicants interviewed - just Google him to see some of the excellent, intriguing work he’s doing, some of it on a nationwide scale – but he probably needs to be a principal somewhere before he can think about being hired as a superintendent, especially in a district the size of Crookston.
    While everyone has baggage and/or skeletons in their closet, and the baggage gets heavier and the closet gets more crowded with bones the older we get, three other interviewees brought some bags and bones to their interviews. One candidate who dropped out the day after his interview had agreed, mutually with his school board, to not seek a contract extension this summer. Why’s that? We don’t know, but do you think the answer is entirely positive and good? Another interviewee, aware of bumps in the road in some of her previous career stops, told the school board to not “believe everything they read.” Another interviewee, during his opening statement, talked of a previous complaint and investigation involving him, but noted that he’d been exonerated. When asked to name his biggest strength, he said it was in finances. Well, that’s great, but what this district does not need right now more than anything else is a budget guru; we have a business manager and she seems to do a solid, steady job of monitoring the revenue and expense ledgers in the ultra-complicated world of education funding.
    So that left Jeffrey Wilson, who’s obviously a great school principal and talked very much like a great school principal, and Jeremy Olson, a relatively young superintendent who was just solid across the board during his interviews with a variety of audiences. Nothing at all against Wilson, but it seemed like Olson made the decision pretty easy for the school board last Wednesday night, and their unanimous vote to offer him the job would seem to attest to that.
    If this editorial comes across as though Olson emerged through a process of elimination and not on his own merits, that wasn’t the intention. Olson deserves to be hired, and he deserves a chance to flourish in this school district by turning some of the excellent things he said during his interviews into actions that improve our local public schools.