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education

Douglas County School Board poised to pick new superintendent

Douglas County School District's administration building, at 620 Wilcox St., Castle Rock.
Douglas County School District's administration building, at 620 Wilcox St., Castle Rock.
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The Douglas County School Board is expected to announce its choice for the permanent superintendent position this week, paring down a list of three finalists. Erin Kane, who has served as interim superintendent for nearly two school years, is not among the finalists for the job that became available after the departure of Elizabeth Fagen in July 2016.

School board President David Ray said he could not comment on why Kane wasn’t selected as a finalist, but he commended her work in the school district over the past 18 months. The three finalists — each a superintendent for a district much smaller than the Douglas County School District — have “unique” skill sets, talents and gifts that will help the district move forward, he said.

“In our interviews with them, we really felt that they were very passionate and knew Douglas County well. All of them did their research,” Ray said. “They weren’t just looking for another superintendent position. They were looking for Douglas County — they wanted to be in Douglas County.”

According to a March 29 email to Douglas County families from Ray, the three finalists to lead the district of 68,000 students are:

  • Educational specialist Karen Brofft, superintendent of the Lewis-Palmer School District in Monument. She has 28 years of experience in Colorado school districts, including 20 years in Douglas County.
  • Daniel Clemens, superintendent of North Kansas City Schools in Kansas City, Missouri. He has 23 years of experience serving in Missouri public school systems.
  • Thomas Tucker, superintendent of Princeton City Schools in Cincinnati. He has 29 years of experience serving in the Kansas and Ohio public school systems.

In December, the Douglas County School Board contracted with an executive search firm to find candidates that met qualifications gathered from online surveys, community input meetings and board priorities, according to Ray’s email. The search firm received more than 1,100 inquiries from nearly every state. It reviewed about 55 applications and narrowed the list to 12 people, which the board picked from.

“Of those that ultimately submitted applications, the search firm screened and narrowed the pool of candidates based on their match to the leadership profile,” Ray said. “From there, the Board of Education screened the candidates and selected the finalists.”

The leadership profile was established in February by the school board and traits sought included strong communication skills, experience recruiting and maintaining exceptional staff, commitment to a “student first” philosophy and previous experience that will benefit the long-term financial health of the district.

The three finalists “most closely match” that profile, said Ray.

“Each one of them demonstrated this unbelievable focus on students,” he said. “They are truly grounded in what is best for kids and they have an outstanding track record of demonstrating that.”

In January, Kane announced she would apply for the permanent superintendent position. She was hired in 2016 after Fagen resigned and took a position in the Humble Independent School District in Texas.

Many teachers and parents blamed Fagen, who was hired in 2010 by a school board majority of reform-minded members, for policies that led to an exodus of teachers and administrators over the past several years. During her tenure, the school board severed ties with the teachers’ union.

In January 2016, the Douglas County School Board extended Kane’s contract through the 2017-18 school year.

Hiring a permanent superintendent was a hot topic leading up to last year’s school board election, when voters elected four anti-reform candidates, Kevin Leung, Krista Holtzmann, Chris Schor and Anthony Graziano, who in their campaigns backed a nationwide superintendent search. They joined like-minded members Ray, Wendy Vogel and Anne-Marie Lemieux on the board.

At 6 p.m. April 5, the board will hold a special meeting in the DCSD Board Room, 620 Wilcox St., Castle Rock to announce a sole finalist for the position. The meeting will be live streamed at https://livestream.com/DCSDK12/events/8129771.

On April 2, the three finalists met with focus groups comprising randomly selected staff, educators, parents, community members and students. The next day, a meet-the-finalists event was held with the general public.

The board was excited to present the three finalists to the community, Ray said.

“I am proud to be part of a Board of Education who values staff and community engagement and maintains a focus on what is best for our students,” Ray said in his email.

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