Keith Jacobus is expected to be the next South Washington County Schools superintendent.

In a unanimous first-ballot vote, the District 833 School Board voted late Wednesday night to enter into contract negotiations with Jacobus.

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Jacobus, 54, is an assistant superintendent in the Osseo Area School District in the western Twin Cities suburbs.

Jacobus toured the district on Tuesday, met with staff members and the public and was interviewed by the board Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, fellow superintendent Lolli Haws, of Washington, D.C., had a similar visit and interview.

The board met following the interview with Haws and settled on Jacobus.

Superintendent candidates were told by School Exec Connect, a consultant firm hired by the board, that the salary would be in the range of $160,000, according to search consultant Ken Dragseth.

The vote to choose a new superintendent to replace Superintendent Mark Porter, whose contract was not renewed in December, was delayed for more than 30 minutes after board member Marsha Adou said she wanted to think about her decision overnight.

Dragseth said the hardest decision for all school boards is to choose a new superintendent and urged the board to vote without a delay.

"The credibility of the process starts right now," Dragseth said.

Transparency is necessary, he said, so the public will know that board members didn't talk to friends or each other before deciding.

Adou said she wasn't ready and wanted time to read feedback from district administrators and others who attended candidate interviews.

Board Chairwoman Leslee Boyd said she "didn't want to see a 4-3 vote on whether or not to vote."

If one or two board members want to delay the vote, other board members should listen, said Ron Kath, adding that members would have to agree not to email, call friends or talk to other board members.

With the exception of Adou, the rest of the board said they were ready to vote. Laurie Johnson, who indicated to Adou earlier in the day that she was undecided, said she was also ready to vote.

"You know how I am," Adou said. "I need to go home and do my reading."

Boyd said she might use the extra time to call some references.

The board created controversy when Porter's contract was not renewed, Kath said.

"I think we should move forward," he said.

The board agreed to adjourn for a half-hour, not overnight, to allow Adou more time.

When the board reconvened, ballots, signed by board members, were marked and given to Dragseth, who announced that the Jacobus decision was unanimous.

Jim Gelbmann moved to enter into contract negotiations with Jacobus and Johnson seconded the motion.

"It's ironic," Gelbmann said, because they were the two who voted against replacing Porter.

"This was a tough decision because we had two excellent candidates," Boyd said.

After the meeting, Adou said she had wanted more time.

"I'm OK, but I don't like to be pushed," she said, adding that if the board asked administrators to write comments, that board members should read them.

A subcommittee of the board, and Dragseth, will negotiate Jacobus' contract.

Gelbmann, while acknowledging that Jacobus can't be compelled to live within the district as a condition of employment, asked if an "incentive" to move could be part of the contract.

Dragseth said that could be part of contract negotiations.