Nettie Collins-HartDistrict 209 Superintendent

Proviso Township High School District 209 Superintendent Nettie Collins-Hart is one of three finalists in a candidate search for superintendent of the St. Cloud, Minn., public school system, St. Cloud newspapers reported.

The three finalists were chosen from a group of six candidates after a series of interviews which concluded Feb. 21, the St. Cloud Times reported Sunday. According to the Times, the Minnesota district school board will decide this week on its top choice for the job.

This week’s events may be a deciding moment in Collins-Hart’s career as she faces indecision about her future at D209.

In January, the school board approved a two-year contract extension for Collins-Hart. But a week later, the district’s Financial Oversight Panel applied the brakes. They did not approve the extension and tabled the contract until its meeting scheduled for Feb. 26, after the Forest Park Review’s press time.

Collins-Hart earns an annual salary of $218,791.13. She also receives a $9,000 annuity and almost $49,000 in other benefits, according to the compensation report on the district’s website. At its January meeting the school board granted her a $20,000 bonus, according to provisions in her contract.

Collins-Hart, who has been D209 superintendent for five years, told the Times she “helped bring stability to a fragmented district.” Collins-Hart’s hiring ended a revolving door of district superintendents. She has mentioned at board meetings that a lack of institutional memory makes it sometimes difficult to locate information.

She presided over the replacement of three new principals at each of the high schools in D209 last year. But four top employees resigned within the past two years under Collins-Hart’s tenure, including Finance Director Romanier Polley, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Cheryl Pruitt, Special Education Director Marianne Fidishin and Senior Athletic Director Milton Patch, who is a former principal of Proviso East. Pruitt, Fidishin and Patch are now working for the Gary, Ind., School Community Corp.

D209 also faces negative perceptions of district safety, after multi-student melees during the school day at Proviso West High School in Hillside on Feb. 4 and 5 resulted in 18 student arrests, expulsions and charges of gang activity.

St. Cloud School District 742 has a K-12 enrollment of 9,748 students, serving nine communities, with a minority population of 23 percent, according to the district’s website. The St. Cloud school board will make a decision Feb. 27, according to press reports.

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...