HIBBING — The search for a new superintendent for the Hibbing Public Schools is over.

On Monday, the Hibbing School Board voted unanimously to approve the hiring of Richard B. Aldrich, who is currently on a leave of absence from his position as principal at the Chisholm High School.

The ink on the hiring contract was barely dry when Aldrich jumped into his new position immediately following the meeting.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” Aldrich told the Hibbing Daily Tribune during a phone interview on Wednesday afternoon. “There’s such a feeling of pride to come back to the community that I went to school in. I still call myself a Hibbing-ite. I couldn’t be happier to be here.”

Aldrich replaces Hibbing’s current superintendent, Brad Johnson, who retires Sept. 30 but will remain on as a mentor and resource while his replacement learns the ropes.

Thirteen candidates applied for the position and Aldrich, a Hibbing High School graduate, was among the top five selected for interviews during the last week of June. His three-year contract with the district began on July 8 and ends June 30, 2022. In a separate meeting on Monday, the Chisholm School Board approved Aldrich’s requests for a professional leave of absence from his principal duties and his resignation as head girls track coach so he can focus on his new duties ahead.

“I have some goals, but I want to hear what the community and teachers have to say first,” Aldrich told the HDT. “I want to know what’s going well and what’s not working and take some time to really think through that whole process, then come back with some recommendations.”

The new superintendent’s annual salary will be $125,000 for the 2019-2020 school year. That figure is expected to bump up to $130,000 for 2020-2021, and then to $135,000 for 2021-2022.

As the new Hibbing superintendent, Aldrich will be considered the chief executive officer of the school board and under their direction will be in charge of administration responsibilities. He’ll also handle business affairs, direct teachers and school staff and suggest policies, rules, regulations and procedures.

“It’s much more managerial than boots on the ground teaching, but the thing for me with this position is I’ve always looked for how to have the biggest impact that I could and what is best for the kids,” he said. “This gives me the opportunity to really mold the entire school system while keeping in mind always what’s best for kids.”

Aldrich joked that he’s been in school practically every day since he was a kid and his resume is proof. He graduated from Bemidji State University with a B.A. in political science and later with a B.S. in elementary education. He then obtained his master’s degree in education from the University of Minnesota in 2003, followed by his educational administration licensure K-12 in 2004. In 2009 he was awarded the state sponsored National Institution of School Leadership through the Principal’s Academy and, in 2013, Aldrich earned his superintendent-educational specialist degree from Saint Mary’s University.

His academic career started in 1996 when he began teaching in the Chisholm public schools as a physical instructor. Aldrich would eventually go on to teach first, third and fourth grades and physical education before becoming an athletic director in 2008 and moving up the ranks to elementary principal, then high school principal.

This week, he said that he hopes to continue to build on his experience and use that knowledge to do what’s best for Hibbing staff and students.

“I’m trying to be out there and involved in the community and involved in programs,” he said. “I’d like the community to know I’m approachable, reachable, and if they have a concern or question or just want to talk about education that I’m more than willing to chat.”

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