Monticello School District hires Dr. Michael Favor as interim superintendent

Dr. Michael Favor smiles during his interview with the Monticello School Board last Wednesday. The board selected Favor as its choice for the interim superintendent position later that night and finalized the hiring Tuesday night. (Times staff photo by Clay Sawatzke)
Dr. Michael Favor smiles during his interview with the Monticello School Board last Wednesday. The board selected Favor as its choice for the interim superintendent position later that night and finalized the hiring Tuesday night. (Times staff photo by Clay Sawatzke)

The Monticello Public School District has officially hired Dr. Michael Favor, formerly the executive director of schools and student services for Robbinsdale Area Schools, as its interim superintendent. The hiring was finalized at a special school board meeting Tuesday night, with a 5-0 vote by board members.

The board came to the decision on Wednesday, Aug. 23 after conducting a second round of interviews with Favor and David Marlette, former superintendent of the Watertown-Mayer School District.

Favor graduated with his bachelor’s degree from North Dakota State University in 1990, and earned his master’s degree from Hamline University in 1998. He recently picked up his sixth-year licensure at St. Cloud State University.

Favor worked as the dean of students in the St. Louis Park School District until 2001, before becoming the assistant principal and then principal at Minneapolis North High School until 2007. He was then the principal at Robbinsdale Cooper High School from 2007 until 2013, before taking his current position as executive director of schools and student services.

Following his 40-minute, second-round interview Wednesday night, Favor made clear to the board how passionate he was about a position in the Monticello School District.

“What you have here is something special,” said Favor. “And I’d like to be a part of it.”

After an ensuing interview with Marlette, who has previously worked as superintendent in three different school districts, the board and several staff members convened to discuss options and choose a superintendent for the next 10 months.

While much of the talk during the month-long process has centered on finding someone who could keep the district moving forward without rocking the boat, school board members ended up choosing the candidate they thought may be able to lead the district well into the feature.

Robbie Smith, the first school board member to share his opinion following the interviews, said you always hope an interim position, whether it be a sports coach or school superintendent, wows people during his or her interim stint.

“You kind of hope they could take your team, your district, into a place where you go, ‘It’s a no brainer to keep them here,’” said Smith.

Smith also pointed out the mission statement from Favor’s resume, and how strongly it resonated with him. The mission statement read: “To provide strategic direction and innovative leadership to achieve educational equity by opening pathways to college and career readiness and improving the social, emotional and academic success for all students.”

“I think that’s pretty powerful,” said Smith, adding that opening pathways to college and career readiness is something that Monti has tried hard to emphasize.

Smith also said that he thinks Monti has the pieces in place to work with someone who will be taking the reins for the first time as a superintendent.

“I think we have very strong people in positions who could support someone who’s new as superintendent,” said Smith.

The long-tenured school board member, who will be leaving the board this fall, said Marlette would be a great choice as well, and one he would be very comfortable with. But Smith said he felt it was in Monti’s best interest to use this 10-month trial period on a leader like Favor.

“He excites me,” said Smith. “I just think of all the possibilities that Dr. Favor could do, and that’s why I would lean in [his] direction.”

School Board Chair Bill Spartz was the final board member to speak. Spartz said that there was no bad choice for the board to make, but with the district looking for a leader, there was a clear better choice.

“I’m a person who believes that actions speak louder than words. Dr. Favor has been here twice, and both times he worked this room better than I can. I wish I could do that,” said Spartz. “He’s a born leader. You can’t teach that.”

Following Spartz’s impassioned plea, Smith made a motion to extend an offer for the superintendent position to Dr. Michael Favor, contingent upon a successful contract negotiation process. The motion was seconded by Carol McNaughton, and it carried by a 4-0 margin, with Jill Bartlett and Jeff Hegle being absent from Wednesday evening’s proceedings.

The board held contract negotiations with Favor on Monday evening and the two sides agreed on a 10-month contract for $135,000.

Favor was scheduled to start his new position immediately, on Wednesday, Aug. 30.

Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]