The timeline for hiring an outside consultant to help with the search for a new Duluth school district superintendent has been pushed back.

The Duluth School Board was expected to have a conversation Tuesday about what firms to bring in to present to the board. Human resource manager Tim Sworsky said the district had received proposals from three out of the seven firms that were sent a request for proposal, or RFP.

The firms were given numbers to keep their names private during ongoing negotiations. Sworsky said he received proposals from firms one, four and six. Firm two declined to send in a proposal, firm five never received the RFP because it went into its spam folder and firm seven said it didn’t have the staff to create a proposal in the timeline provided.

Sworsky gave the board two options to choose from: decide from the three proposals that have been received or give firms five and seven another chance to send in a proposal within one week.

Board members agreed to offer firms five and seven a second chance to send in a proposal, but if both firms say they can’t get one together in a week’s timeline then all three firms who’ve already submitted a proposal will be brought in for a presentation.

Board member Jill Lofald said after doing research and reaching out to other entities who have had used the firms, she was disappointed that firms five and seven did not respond. Lofald expressed her concern with the timeline and the importance of getting the job posted before the holiday season. However, she was in favor of giving both firms a week only.

Board member Sally Trnka also said she was supportive of allowing firms five and seven another week to submit proposals.

“This is one of the most critical decisions that we as a board have to make,” Trnka said adding she would like to have more than three options to choose from.

Board members Nora Sandstad and Alanna Oswald were absent from the meeting.

The RFP was sent out in August with a deadline of Sept. 24. The proposal required an overview of the organization including a brief history of the organization, resumes of professionals who will be assigned to the district and a description of the organization's experience in providing service for educational clients.

The RFP also stated the firm chosen will conduct prescreening of all superintendent candidates so that a reduced candidate pool can be identified to proceed with the interview process. Board member and district human resource staff will participate in this process, according to the RFP.

The RFP also asked five questions. Those questions were:

  1. Please outline the range of services you offer in assisting the school board to select a new superintendent of schools.

  2. Please outline the scope of your firm in identifying candidates (Minnesota, regional, national) and describe the process used for identifying candidates.

  3. Please outline your fee structure based upon the scope of work identified in numbers one and two above.

  4. Please provide references along with the number of school districts with which you are currently working.

  5. Please provide additional information you feel would be pertinent to the school board.

Sworsky told the News Tribune that the names of the firms and proposals submitted would be made available once the School Board decides which firms to bring in.

District loses food service provider

The Duluth school district was recently informed by its food service provider that it may not be able to fulfill its contract with the district. The School Board voted to hire Indianhead Foodservice Distributor out of Eau Claire, Wis., for the amount of $810,432.25.

CFO Cathy Erickson informed the board Tuesday the district received notification from Indianhead which said it was having a driver shortage and might not fulfill all of its contracts. Erickson said Duluth was not the only district to receive this notification.

Erickson told the board the district has a conference call Thursday with another food service provider which submitted a bid last spring, and might be able to provide food services to the district.

"We've also received an attorney's opinion in case the district does not receive a food delivery that we can have emergency deliveries from a contractor that may not have our bid yet and we have been assured by the Department of Education that we can have an emergency procurement if need be," Erickson said. "But we are hoping to get this all resolved by the end of the week."

Upper Lakes Foods was the second responsible vendor that bid on the contract last spring at a cost of $819,933.