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Community reaction was mixed following the Douglas County School Board’s selection of three finalists for the permanent superintendent position.
Kallie Leyba, president of the local teachers’ union, the Douglas County Federation, sent a text message to members after receiving an announcement of the finalists from the school board.
Members were excited, she said. Several worked under finalist Karen Brofft, superintendent of Lewis-Palmer School District, who spent 20 years in the Douglas County School District as principal of Roxborough Primary and Intermediate School and director of curriculum, instruction and assessment.
“I think this board has really honored the community input throughout this process and I hope that means the community will trust them to make the right decision between these three candidates,” said Leyba.
Some were disappointed that the top three finalists didn’t include interim Superintendent Erin Kane, who in January announced she would apply for the position.
Nikkie Wacker, of Parker, likes that Kane has kids in the district, she said.
“I believe that makes her try to be as transparent as she can be,” said Wacker. “I have two children in the district and it is vital to be able to trust that the superintendent has the kids’ best interest in mind. I believe she does.”
Others are confident that the board will make the right decision.
Gary Colley, a retired teacher from Parker, applauded the board for its thorough selection process, which included more than 25 community meetings.
“For things to change effectively, it takes a committed school board, which we have,” said Colley. “Now, it’s finding the right person to lead.”
After leading the Douglas County School District for nearly two school years, interim Superintendent Erin Kane will not be given the opportunity to lead the district on a permanent basis.
Kane, who expressed her interest in the permanent post in January, took over as interim at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, after Elizabeth Fagen left the district for a position in the Humble Independent School District in Texas.
In December, the school board hired a firm to conduct a national search for a permanent superintendent.
The firm received 1,100 inquiries from nearly every state. After narrowing the list to 12 people, the school board selected three finalists that fit a leadership profile established earlier this year with community involvement.
Finalists were announced on March 29.
Kane, who is being paid $240,000 per year as interim superintendent, declined to comment on the board’s decision.
School board President David Ray said he could not comment on why Kane didn’t make the list of finalists because information on applicants who entered the search process is confidential. He can only comment on the three names that have been made public, he said.
Kane helped found charter school American Academy, which has a location in Castle Pines and two in Parker. Executive director of the school from 2013 until taking the interim DCSD position, she pointed to her leadership of the school’s community in her bid to win the job.
Laura Mutton, founder of Strong Schools Coalition, an organization composed of parents, students, teachers and community members, with an interest in the school district, said she has faith the school board is making the right decision given the community input it has received.
“I’d assume if Kane didn’t make the cut, she didn’t match up with what the community was asking for,” said Mutton, whose child went to Douglas County schools.
In an evaluation released last fall, the seven school board members at the time — which included current board members Ray, Wendy Vogel and Anne-Marie Lemieux, and four members no longer on the board — rated Kane based on four criteria: creating a work environment to increase employee satisfaction and reduce turnover, bringing stability to the district, performing budget analysis and communicating the need for a mill levy and bond tax measure.
Ray and Lemieux gave Kane generally low marks compared to those given by the other board members.
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