Superintendent Melissa Krull recently announced that this will be her last school year in Eden Prairie. Now, her nine-year tenure could end sooner.

The school board last week approved asking Krull if there's "mutual consent" to end her tenure before her contract runs out next June 30.

"We're just seeing if there's an interest," board Chairwoman Carol Bomben said, adding that there's no timeframe when a decision needs to be made. "It's just testing the water."

Reached after the meeting, Krull, 51, said she didn't have a response yet for the board. "I'll certainly give it some thought and give consideration to the board's offer," she said.

Last school year, she championed a controversial plan to disperse low-income students among elementary schools in the 9,700-student suburban district. The plan divided the school board and drew widespread opposition from parents who declared it the end to neighborhood schools.

When she announced on July 27 that she planned to leave the district next June, Krull said vocal opposition didn't prompt her decision. She said she felt the district was well-positioned for a new leader and that she would finish her contract.

The decision to now have attorneys explore with her ending her tenure sooner was approved unanimously last week by the board.

As school board members await Krull's response, they're moving forward with a superintendent search process. The board met Tuesday with the Minnesota School Boards Association to discuss the process and from there, Bomben said they'll likely interview search company executives to determine which firm will conduct the search.

The board did not conduct a broad search before it picked Krull for the top spot in 2002, elevating her from assistant superintendent. With previous teaching and administrator positions, Krull has spent most of her nearly 30-year education career in Eden Prairie.

At a special meeting Aug. 4, the board formally acknowledged Krull's announcement to leave the district and thanked her for her service.

It also released a statement about a midyear evaluation of Krull, conducted in a closed session on June 22. The board commended her for making gains in narrowing the achievement gap but added that, after a November evaluation, "we feel meaningful and necessary collaboration has not improved," the statement said.

Turnover in many top spots

Last week the board also discussed revising a policy to become more involved in filling more high-level positions.

The policy now allows board members to participate in hiring only the superintendent. But, Bomben said, after Communications Director Camie Melton-Hanily recently left, "it's important for us to understand at the higher level who's being hired and be involved."

Among six top positions -- superintendent, human resources, educational services, communications, business and student services -- three leaders already have left in the last year.

Bomben said turnover isn't unusual for high-level spots and she isn't concerned.

Krull added that the district has seen "some movement," but that higher turnover is typical after large-scale changes.

"When things are status quo, you maybe don't see as much turnover," she said. "We've had people deeply involved in this work for many years. I think some of it is just personal lives and people finding balance. But [also], people who have joined us are doing so because they're passionate about what we're doing."

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141