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GFW selects new leader

GIBBON FAIRFAX WINTHROP — After nearly four and one-half hours of interviews and deliberation Thursday, the GFW (Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop) School Board unanimously approved a resolution to negotiate a superintendent contract with Jeffrey Horton of Duluth.

The decision came on a motion by board member Becky Vos, seconded by Kelsey Odegard, after nearly an hour of discussion on whether to offer the job to Horton, Duluth Public School assistant superintendent or Jonas Beugen, executive director at Tesla International School in Columbia Heights.

Sleepy Eye Public School Principal Shane Laffen also interviewed for the position.

Several board members and parent-staff committee members said they liked the energy that Horton brought to the interview and some of his innovative ideas on how to improve students and schools. Other board members were impressed with his traveling from Duluth to Gibbon, Fairfax, and Winthrop to talk to people.

GFW School Board Chairman Phil Klenk said an online search showed that Horton had DWI convictions in July 2017 and November 2013.

Superintendent search consultant Harold Remme of New Ulm said he verified with a Duluth superintendent and school board member that Horton had not used alcohol since 2017.

The board set a special board meeting for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 3, to act on hiring Horton. The board meets at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 27, to act on a proposed Aug. 11 bond referendum election, in an attempt to get out of Statutory Operating Debt (SOD) and act on the sale of the former Gibbon football field property.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com

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