The Crosslake Community School Board voted unanimously Tuesday, Dec. 3, to hire Cliff Skagen to be the school's next executive director.

Skagen was chosen from a field of 10 applications. The board interviewed four candidates, and then narrowed the selection to three candidates before ultimately offering the position to Skagen. The other two finalists were Jill Arendt, director of student life at Crosslake School, and Annette Klang, a grades 1-2 teacher at Crosslake School.

Current Director Todd Lyscio will retire at the end of this month.

“I am so excited to be there,” Skagen said. “I like what Crosslake Community School stands for. I think this is a new chapter in my life, and I am just so happy to be there.”

“Cliff impressed us throughout the process,” board chair Lori Scharenbroich said in a news release. “On paper, his credentials, extensive experience with charter schools and commitment to academic growth by students made him very exciting to interview. Once we had him on site, he had wonderful interactions with students and staff. As we got to know him better, it became clear that he would be committed to the success of our students and staff and work to create deep relationships with parents and our community.”

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Skagen currently serves as head principal and director of curriculum and instruction at Twin Cities Academy Charter School in St. Paul. Twin Cities Academy is a diverse college preparatory program that has a 98%-100% graduation rate, 95% college attendance rate and is recognized by the Minnesota Department of Education as a Reward School.

Additionally, Skagen served as president of the Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs, and is now ready to settle into his new role in Crosslake.

“I thought it was another step in moving toward where my career interests are,” Skagen said. “I was pursuing an executive director position, and this aligns with my dreams of being somewhere that is a little more relaxing, I guess you might say, but still has that commitment to education. I really love the environmental focus at Crosslake and I thought I could use my skills in a different manner, because I have a lot to offer.”

He will begin his tenure at Crosslake Community School on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, and looks forward to continuing his career at a school with classes set at manageable sizes.

“At Twin Cities Academy, it has been pretty low - around 25,” he said. “In the large district high schools down the street, they can have 30 or 35 kids in a class and that, to me, is not a great learning environment. It’s not that you can’t learn (in that setting), but I would rather teach a class of 19 than 35.”

With Lyscio’s retirement effective Tuesday, Dec. 31, board members will manage the role of executive director during the interim.