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Former Hermantown superintendent to lead Proctor Public Schools

The Proctor School Board unanimously voted to hire Kerry Juntunen.

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Former Hermantown Superintendent Kerry Juntunen has been hired as superintendent of Proctor Public Schools. He retired from the Hermantown district in 2020.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram

PROCTOR — Former Hermantown Superintendent Kerry Juntunen has been selected as the next superintendent of Proctor Public Schools.

The Proctor School Board on Thursday unanimously voted to hire Juntunen, 61, who retired in June 2020 from Hermantown. He’ll replace the previous superintendent, John Engelking, who announced his retirement Sept. 13 and is serving in an interim role.

Superintendent John Engelking is set to retire on Friday, Sept. 17.

Reached by phone Friday, Juntunen said he believes superintendents have seasons and he knew it was time for “somebody else to come in and start leading the ship” when he left Hermantown.

But he’s missed the people and “servant leadership” in the nearly two years of retirement.

Kerry Juntunen has been with the district since 1999. He was hired as the superintendent in July 2015.

“I love people. And I love what we can do as educators for people. And it goes all the way from your custodians and bus drivers and cooks and everybody in the system,” Juntunen said. “I just really missed that part of life.”

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Jennifer McDonald, chair of the Proctor School Board, said Juntunen best fit the criteria for a superintendent that was gathered through a community survey and was assured by the board’s unanimous decision.

And, she said, she believes it's his season to serve as superintendent of Proctor.

“When he applied for Proctor, he said, ‘I feel like I can do this. I think this is what you need,’” McDonald said.

The other two final superintendent candidates were Melinda Crowley, superintendent in Red Lake, Minnesota, and Donita Stepan, superintendent in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. The field of candidates started at 19.

McDonald said the district and Juntunen will now begin contract negotiations. The board is expected to vote on it March 14.

Engelking previously said the new superintendent would take over duties on July 1, but McDonald said an exact start date would be determined in contract negotiations.

Jimmy Lovrien covers energy, mining and the 8th Congressional District for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be reached at jlovrien@duluthnews.com or 218-723-5332.
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