A south metro area schools administrator with experience as a suburban math teacher and principal has been chosen to lead the high-performing but financially struggling Mahtomedi Public Schools.
Barbara Duffrin, executive director of educational services for the Farmington Area Public Schools, will succeed Superintendent Mark Larson on July 1.
Last week, Duffrin and leaders of the 3,300-student school system agreed to a three-year contract that will pay her $178,000 during the 2018-19 school year. Larson announced in January he was stepping down after nine years with the district that borders the eastern and southern shores of White Bear Lake.
The district is among the state’s most successful academically, with more than 80 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards in math and reading tests in 2017. But it has battled budget deficits that have forced it to draw students from other districts to ease its woes — creating some local controversy.
“I’m excited to become part of the Mahtomedi community and appreciate the warm welcome I’ve received,” Duffrin said in a statement. “I’m committed to continuing the tradition of academic program excellence that empowers each student to create their own unique opportunities and look forward to getting to know the students, staff and families that are so clearly dedicated to their schools.”
By July 1, the district is expected to have resolved a projected $1.1 million budget gap for 2018-19. Then it will begin the push to secure more operating funds from voters — four years after residents approved an additional $593 per student in a referendum that year.
Farmington, unlike the majority of metro area school systems, did not project a budget shortfall for 2018-19.
Thirty-two people applied for Mahtomedi’s top job.
“We are delighted that Ms. Duffrin has accepted our offer and will be joining us this summer as our new superintendent,” board Chairwoman Judy Schwartz said in a news release.
Duffrin also has shown she will stand firm on her decisions.
In 2007, when some parents objected to a “No Name-Calling Week” at a Farmington middle school because of the event’s connection to a gay-rights education group, Duffrin, then the principal, said the middle school would not rename or reschedule the week.
“We’re not sure why it matters who came up with the good idea,” she said then of the antibullying initiative. “We don’t want to forgo a quality opportunity because of this feeling that this organization is promoting something other than safe schools.”