Kirsten Baesler defeated Tracy Potter Tuesday to become the new state superintendent of public instruction.
Baesler, who has served as southwest director of the North Dakota School Boards Association, is a former Mandan school board president and also had a background as a teacher, assistant principal and library media specialist for the Bismarck Public Schools. She had received the endorsement of the North Dakota Education Association as well as of a number of Republican party leaders.
Baesler planned to hit the ground running and said if she wins she will attend a meeting this morning at the state Capitol on proposed K-12 funding formulas as the incoming superintendent.
Ensuring that school districts receive needed funding is one of her top priorities. She said she also wants to increase the number of students who take Advanced Placement or dual credit college courses and will set a goal of having 25 percent of this year's freshmen class take the advanced classes before they graduate from high school. She also wants to reduce the number of students who need to take remedial classes when they start college.
Student safety is another of Baesler's priorities and she said she will make the department of public instruction a statewide clearinghouse providing information about best practices in educating kids about the dangers of synthetic drugs as well as illegal drug use and alcohol abuse as well as other dangerous behaviors such as sexting and cyberbullying. She promised to get input from school districts across the state that have successful programs so the success can be repeated statewide.
Potter, executive director of the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation, had said his experience as leader of a major foundation and in state government made him better suited for the job than Baesler; Baesler had countered that she is in the prime of her career and has a comprehensive background in education that Potter lacks.
Baesler will replace retiring superintendent of public instruction Wayne Sanstead, who has held the job since 1985. Sanstead will leave the office at the end of December.