The Edina school board named John Schultz, current superintendent of the Hopkins School District, as Edina's new superintendent Thursday night after hours of debate.

The board added Schultz as a finalist just last week, and in the end he prevailed over Eric Schneider, the Minnetonka School District's assistant superintendent for instruction.

Schultz "has led a district with tremendous financial and demographic challenges," said David Goldstein, the Edina board's treasurer.

Schultz, 56, will succeed Ric Dressen, who announced his departure in October after leading in Edina for 11 years.

"I'm thrilled that I get to be the Edina superintendent," Schultz said Friday. "It's a bittersweet ending. Hopkins has been a wonderful place for me. I have enjoyed it every day."

Schultz, an educator for more than 20 years, applied for the Edina position early on, then withdrew his candidacy.

During his time in Hopkins, he worked closely with the Edina schools, and he and Dressen developed a collegial bond that developed into an informal partnership in which the districts shared resources to cut costs.

After more than four hours of deliberations Thursday night, the board voted 5-2 in favor of Schultz..

"We need someone who is going to be able to solidify the initiatives we have in place," said board Chairman Leny Wallen-Friedman.

Hopkins and Edina have marked demographic differences. About 42 percent of Hopkins' student body consists of students of color, compared to 23 percent in Edina. Board members referred to Schultz's work with integration and diversity in his district.

Board members did not mention a 2014 drunken driving conviction that Schneider disclosed during the search process. "It is not something I'm proud of. I made a mistake," he said in a phone interview before the meeting.

The district paid the executive search firm BWP more than $16,000 for the search.