The Anoka-Hennepin School District will soon have a new permanent superintendent. The school board on Wednesday selected Osseo Superintendent Cory McIntyre from a pool of five candidates it interviewed over the last two weeks.
Board Chair Marci Anderson offered McIntyre the job after the board voted 5 to 1 to hire him. He'll now begin negotiating a contract with the district.
McIntyre will be the 10th person to hold the job, according to district records. He succeeds interim Superintendent Katherine Maguire, who took over for David Law after he was hired away by Minnetonka Public Schools earlier this year.
McIntyre told the board that his experience with the district gives him an advantage.
"It does give me a running start, especially coupling that with my experience in a large district with a lot of similarities," he said.
That argument struck a chord with board members, all of whom expressed confidence in McIntyre's bid for the job given he currently leads the state's fifth-largest district.
"We have needs that have to be addressed and there's a little bit of urgency to that post-pandemic and the shorter the learning curve, that's what I'm certainly in favor for," Anderson said.
McIntyre embarked on a full day's worth of vetting Wednesday that included meetings with district staffers, students and residents of the two counties the district serves. Sartell-St. Stephen Superintendent Jeff Ridlehoover, the board's other finalist, went through an identical process Tuesday.
During a town hall-style community meeting before their school board interviews, McIntyre fielded questions on topics ranging from parental rights to his experience working in large districts.
The Osseo district, which McIntyre oversees, enrolls nearly 21,000 students. Anoka-Hennepin has about 37,000.
Community members asked McIntyre if schools have a right to hide a student's gender identity from their family. Board Member Matt Audette followed up on that line of questioning during the interview, asking McIntyre how he felt about serving transgender children and schools "teaching that stuff."
"However a child identifies is their choice and their family's choice. When they come to us, we have to make sure we are providing supports and ensuring their success," McIntyre said, adding that LGBTQ and transgender youth face higher rates of harassment and self-harm than other students.
Board members also asked McIntyre about approaches he would take to address long-standing academic disparities and how he'd boost literacy among young learners.
McIntyre said it was essential for district officials to understand the unique needs each school and student may have in order to address them accordingly.
"You look at what each school needs and you try to be consistent," McIntyre said. "And you try to meet the specific needs of a particular school at a particular time."
In order to boost literacy among young learners, McIntyre said Osseo educators are looking into adopting a training program for educators who teach reading and spelling that's gained widespread favor among several metro-area districts and that all Anoka-Hennepin elementary schools are in the process of implementing.
He added that elementary educators in his district have noticed kindergartners and first-graders have struggled in recent years due to a lack of socialization and early learning opportunities.
"I think we struggled a bit coming out of the pandemic," McIntyre said. "A lot of our younger students didn't have that early childhood [education] experience."
McIntyre previously worked for Anoka-Hennepin as the district's executive director of student services from August 2016 until July 2018, when he was promoted to become an assistant superintendent. He took the job as Osseo superintendent in July 2019.