In a split vote, the Ignacio School Board selected Walter Coulter of Gallup, New Mexico, as the finalist for the district superintendent position.
With Superintendent Rocco Fuschetto set to retire in May, the district found three top candidates for the position, two from outside Ignacio and one current staff member. Weighing stakeholder input and candidate interviews, board members said it was a difficult task to narrow their final selection before voting Thursday.
The candidates, Ricardo Esparza of Pagosa Springs, Chris deKay of Ignacio and Coulter, met with students, staff members, parents, community members and board members during candidate interviews Jan. 11.
Coulter has been an education program administrator with the Bureau of Indian Education in Arizona for more than four years and has almost two decades of leadership experience in education.
Esparza is a consultant for the international education consulting company, Solution Tree.
DeKay, raised in Ignacio, was Ignacio Middle School principal for 12 years before becoming curriculum director and assessment coordinator in 2020.
During the school board meeting, Yvonne Chapman, Lisa Ruybal and Kara Pearson voted in favor of offering the position to Coulter. Board members Doug Little and Allen McCaw supported offering the position to deKay.
Coulter could not be reached for comment Monday.
McCaw highlighted Coulter’s experience with Native American communities and in education, but said deKay had a vision for the school district and was dedicated to the students.
“The only question that came was: Does he have enough experience to be superintendent?” McCaw said during the school board meeting.
Pearson pushed for growth, and said Coulter was a candidate who would lead the district to the next level. Ruybal said all three candidates were strong, but favored Coulter and deKay.
“I would love to see Mr. deKay as a superintendent, but I would like to see him as a superintendent in a few years,” Ruybal said.
Chapman wanted deKay to have the chance to be successful as curriculum director, his first districtwide position.
“We have a fantastic opportunity to gain outside professional perspective while at the same time maintaining a balance of internal professional history and knowledge,” Chapman said. “I think the two gentlemen could really work in tandem.”
If Coulter accepts the district’s offer, he will replace Fuschetto, who became superintendent in 2010. The new superintendent will take over in July.