The familiar face with decades of inside experience was the unanimous choice late Tuesday as the next superintendent of the sprawling Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District.

Jane Berenz, a product of the district who rose to become its director of teaching and learning, got the nod even though her top competitor, Keith Ryskowski, has already been the leader of a major school district. He's the superintendent in Stillwater.

The decision was so lightning-quick and uncontested that Berenz barely had time to get home after her interview Tuesday night before she got the phone call.

"Jane is my choice," Chairman Mike Roseen told his school board colleagues as the discussion began. "I feel so comfortable with her. ... There've been times when we didn't have the feeling, as a district, that we have had the last six years. I'd like to keep that feeling going."

Jackie Magnuson, a longtime member of the school board, agreed, saying it's easy to forget when considering a familiar face all that she has accomplished.

"Knowing Jane for the 20 years I've been on this board," she said, "sometimes we forget how talented the people are right under our noses ... you forget, till you look at her résumé, all the steps she has taken" as she moved up through the ranks.

Berenz told the board that the district faces substantial challenges, with an increasingly diverse student body, stable to declining enrollments, increasing numbers of aging residents and severe fiscal constraints.

But, when asked by Roseen whether she's truly ready for a demanding job, having pulled away from the district at times in the past to fulfill other needs, she declared that she was.

"My family's in a different place today," she said, "I'm in a different place. I'm committed to this district. ... I will give whatever it takes to do the job."

Ryskowski was interviewed Monday.

David Peterson • 952-882-9023