Two finalists remain in the Lakeville school board's search for a new superintendent.

The board plans to choose between Assistant Superintendent Bob Laney of the St. Louis Park School District and Lisa Snyder, superintendent of schools in Merrill, Wis.

Both have been invited to a second round of interviews next week. The board plans to make its choice on July 21.

Laney led a massive reshuffling last year in which one of St. Louis Park's elementary schools closed and many teachers moved to new buildings. Before taking his current job in 2007, he was principal of the district's high school for 11 years. St. Louis Park's enrollment is about 4,400.

Snyder has two years under her belt as schools chief in Merrill, a district in central Wisconsin with about 3,100 students. She has also been a principal in Holmen, Wis.

The board chose the pair from a pool of five candidates that also included Craig Fiegel, former superintendent of Michigan's Plymouth-Canton Community Schools; Terrence Martin, an associate superintendent of schools in Des Moines; and Scott Staska, superintendent of Rocori schools in Cold Spring, Minn.

The Lakeville board's executive search consultants said they received 29 applications.

The new superintendent will have to guide the district, which has about 11,000 students, through economic woes that are expected to continue for schools across Minnesota.

The Lakeville board has cut its budget repeatedly in recent years because of stagnant state funding and voter rejection of proposed local tax increases. This year, the district closed an elementary school and cut scores of jobs to help fill a two-year budget hole of $15.8 million.

Among other qualities, board member Jim Skelly said that he's looking for a leader who can infuse new energy into the district. "We had a tough year, so I think we're looking for a fresh start," he said.

Lakeville's former superintendent, Gary Amoroso, took a job this summer as executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators.

Sarah Lemagie • 952-882-9016