See more of the story

– The school board voted unanimously Wednesday to select an associate superintendent from Green Bay, Wis., to helm Duluth’s school district.

The board will offer its superintendent position to John Magas, who currently helps oversee a district with more than 20,000 students.

“I’m most excited and proud that Duluth and the school board is entrusting me with this huge responsibility to really take the district and the needs of all of its students and continue to move forward in the future and close opportunity gaps and create greater equity for kids,” said Magas, 50, who is originally from outside of Marquette, Mich. “I think that’s really what drives me as a leader and what made me get involved in school administration.”

Duluth officials will enter into contract negotiations with Magas immediately, aiming to vote on an agreement in April that would allow him to assume his new role on July 1.

Bill Gronseth, Duluth’s current superintendent, was chosen earlier this month to fill the top administrative spot in St. Peter’s school district in southern Minnesota.

Magas is slated to take over Duluth’s public schools ahead of controversial boundary shifts that were postponed until at least the fall of 2021 after parents pushed back on proposed changes earlier this year.

Throughout the interview process, Duluth officials have also discussed the district’s long-standing achievement gap and its financial management.

While discussing Magas and the two other finalists — Michael Funk, Albert Lea’s superintendent, and Ron Wagner, an associate superintendent for Minneapolis — school board members lauded the Wisconsin candidate’s communication skills and commitment to listening to and working with the district’s many stakeholder groups.

“I just see a modern visionary, a leader who will bring fresh ideas and a fresh perspective to our district,” board member Paul Sandholm said of Magas during the selection process.

Board member Sally Trnka added that she liked how Magas referenced the budget as “a monetary representation of values,” noting that the more than $200 million he helps manage in Green Bay is larger than Duluth’s funds.

Before his associate superintendent job, Magas had stints as a director of secondary teaching, learning and equity and a principal in two other Wisconsin school districts. He also worked as a teacher in Washington state and Mexico City.

Katie Galioto • 612-673-4478