Kelly Durick Eder focusing on equity, inclusion as newest Duluth School Board member

“I’m open and accessible and I hope the community keeps me accountable. I’m not afraid to talk to people about the decisions made,” Kelly Durick Eder said.

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Kelly Durick Eder

"Excited" is the word Kelly Durick Eder used to describe how she feels about joining the Duluth School Board.

Durick Eder was unanimously appointed to the board during a special meeting Monday to fill the vacant At Large position previously held by Josh Gorham, who resigned last month.

Durick Eder grew up in Bismarck, N.D., and moved from Iowa to Duluth in 2014 when she took a job at the College of St. Scholastica. She lives in Piedmont Heights and has two children, ages 10 and 6, who attend Piedmont Elementary School, where Durick Eder is the secretary of the parent-teacher association.

Though Durick Eder has only been in Duluth for about five years, she sees that as a positive when representing the entire school district.

“When I came to Duluth I didn’t have any preconceived notions about west versus east and those types of ideas,” she said. “I think as a School Board we all need to focus on what all of our kids need in terms of equity and inclusion. I want to try and leave those notions of west and east aside and I want to focus on what all of our kids need.”


Durick Eder said the needs may look greater on the west side, but the board needs to make sure its meeting the needs of those students as well as those across the rest of the district.

“There are students in every one of our schools who require or are dealing with issues of equity and inclusion,” she said.

Durick Eder said some of her top priorities, once sworn in next month, are focusing on the superintendent search and redistricting of school boundaries.

“These are big challenges we have and I’m absolutely looking forward to working with the board and meeting these challenges and opportunities,” she said.

Durick Eder also said the community should have a seat at the table for both.

“The way that I look at leadership is that you gather as much input as you can from as many people as you can possibly get, and then you discern what you hear from people and you make decisions and you do it in a transparent manner, and then you're accountable for those decisions back to the community,” she said.

Listening and hearing different perspectives from as many people as possible is something Durick Eder said she enjoys doing. It’s a chance for her to get more educated on a topic.

“I’m open and accessible and I hope the community keeps me accountable. I’m not afraid to talk to people about the decisions made,” Durick Eder said. “The School Board should be scrutinized — it’s a really important board. I think it’s great that community members pay attention to it.”


Central High School is one of those issues Durick Eder said she needs to educate herself more about before forming an opinion on what needs to happen with it and how big of a priority it should be for the board and the district.

“I need to talk to more people about it, educate myself about it and talk to the stakeholders who are involved with it, then I can have a better understanding,” she said. “I like to get educated and learn and talk to as many people as I can before I make a decision, so I have all the facts.”

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Kelly Durick Eder answers questions during a Duluth School Board meeting Monday, Sept. 30. After interviewing 17 candidates for the vacant At Large seat board members voted to appoint Durick Eder. (Steve Kuchera /

Durick Eder received the nomination for appointment after two rounds of ballots during Monday’s special School Board meeting. After the School Board interviewed 17 candidates for the At Large seat, board members ranked their top five candidates 1-5 and gave the rest of the candidates a 6. The candidates with the lowest five totals were pulled out for further consideration.

Durick Eder received the lowest score — 15. She received three No. 1 votes from board members Jill Lofald, Alanna Oswald and Sally Trinka. Board members Nora Sandstad, Rosie Loeffler-Kemp and David Kirby gave her rankings of 2, 4 and 6, respectively.

Lofald, Oswald and Trnka all said Durick Eder’s comments about wanting to work as a team during her interview stood out.

“Very importantly, she was able to outline what her direct responsibilities would be in this role (e.g. superintendent search) and provided examples of how she has been an independent thinker in similar leadership roles she has assumed in the past,” Trnka wrote in a statement to the News Tribune. “Her enthusiasm for the great work happening at the district and ability to articulate how she would work with community members was evident and exciting. I look forward to adding her independent and informed perspectives to the Duluth School Board.”

Lofald said during the interview process she focused on what each candidate said and how they said it and spent a great deal of time reading and highlighting the submitted applications.


“Kelly first impressed me with her commitment to working as a team within the Duluth School Board. She described herself as collaborative and hard-working, qualities I respect when working with colleagues,” Lofald said. “Kelly’s determination to be part of our team, working with board members and district leadership stood out to me.”

Oswald, who lives on the west side of Duluth, said it was really important to her that Durick Eder was coming from a western community to “help balance the geographical divide on the board.”

“I had also lobbied the Piedmont community to bring someone forward because it's been a long time since the Piedmont area has had representation on the board, and I think that's a valuable voice missing especially since the high school they would be going to, Central, has been gone and they haven't had that adequate representation for those eight years to give voice to being split and divided up and finding a new purpose and a new place in our schools,” Oswald said. “I thought it was important to have someone that was experiencing those disparities and can give voice to those concerns to make sure that our school system is treating everyone equitably.”

Durick Eder’s appointment will be official Oct. 31 unless a valid petition to reject the appointee is filed with the school district clerk pursuant to Minnesota Statute. If no such petition is filed, Durick Eder will hold the position through 2020. A special election for the seat will be held in November 2020 to fill out the remainder of the term, which expires in January 2022. Durick Eder can run for the seat next year.

Adelle Whitefoot is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.
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