St. Cloud school superintendent resigns

Steve Jordahl
St. Cloud Superintendent Steve Jordahl has announced his resignation, effective at the end of June.
MPR Photo/Ambar Espinoza

Steve Jordahl, the superintendent of the St. Cloud school district, has resigned with one year remaining on his contract, saying the job got "too political."

"I have come to realize that this is not a long-term commitment or fit for me," Jordahl wrote in a letter to the school board. "I will be engaged in securing a new opportunity that will better serve my personal and professional aspirations."

Jordahl will serve through the end of June and said he's considered resigning for a while now. Sigrid Hedman-Dennis, school board chairman, said the board will meet tomorrow and will likely accept his resignation.

"Personally I am saddened that Dr. Jordahl decided to leave his contract prior to year three," Hedman-Dennis said. "I really respect what he's done for our district and respect his decision to move to another employment opportunity."

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Last week, Jordahl sat down with his wife to weigh the pros and cons of running the district of nearly 10,000 students.

In the end, he decided he was spending too much energy on political issues and he found it draining his energy. He didn't get into specific details, but he said those politics revolved more around making decisions that were best for adults than the students. Yet he realizes handling political issues comes with the territory.

"Maybe somebody else can come along and do [the job] more efficiently [and] more effectively," Jordahl said. "I want to be in a position where I can take all these strengths...and I want to grow on those and challenge myself according to what my strengths are."

Jordahl said he doesn't have one single reason for leaving and that the issues have been building since he started in 2008. He recalls learning two weeks into his job that the district would lose money from the state's merit pay program, Q Comp.

Most recently, he had to respond to alleged incidents of racial and religious harassment at two of the local high schools.

"It got to be where I just wanted to move on," Jordahl said. "I would say it weighed in. That's being honest."

St. Cloud Personnel Committee Chair Gerald W. Von Korff says Jordahl's resignation has nothing to do with those tensions.

"I certainly would not attribute that to these issues. The letter says that they are personal and professional and I am very confident that these particular issues are not driving this," Van Korff said.

Van Korff said Jordahl's accomplishments include passing a property tax referendum that has helped stabilize district revenues. He also credits Jordahl with developing measurable objectives and standards to increase student achievement.

"That was a tall order. He and his team have taken us through that process to the point where we have clear measurable standards and a method to monitor how all kids are doing," he said.

School board members said they'll likely accept Jordahl's resignation at their meeting Wednesday, then start the process of finding a successor.