The Ignacio School District has hired its next superintendent: Chris deKay, a candidate from Ignacio who has spent decades working in the district.
With Superintendent Rocco Fuschetto set to retire at the end of the school year, the district announced its three top candidates for the position.
Several board members said it was a tough decision as they chose between deKay and Walter Coulter of New Mexico.
In a 3-2 vote, the board of education offered the job to Coulter in January.
But the contract negotiations did not pan out.
“There was an offer, and we went into negotiations. We didn’t come out of negotiations on the same page,” Coulter said. “I wish the district well in their search for their ideal superintendent.”
After Coulter declined the job, the school board unanimously supported hiring deKay during its meeting Thursday.
“Sometimes there are detours in the process, but I think things are going to work out the way they were meant to,” said Chapman, one of three members who initially voted to offer Coulter the position. “Mr. deKay has earned his spot at the table, and I support him 100%.”
Board member Allen McCaw, who advocated for deKay as the next superintendent, said deKay has “all the qualities you want in a superintendent.”
“He’s well-qualified for the position. He always has the students in his forethoughts, and I think the school district will thrive under his leadership,” McCaw said.
DeKay, who is from Ignacio and graduated from the town’s high school, served as Ignacio Middle School principal from 2008 to 2020.
DeKay was also a social studies teacher in Ignacio and Farmington for 15 years and an adjunct professor with Adams State University. He has a master’s degree in curriculum development from Adams State University in Colorado.
This school year, he took on the role of curriculum director and assessment coordinator for the district. He will take over as the new superintendent in July.
Fuschetto, who has worked with deKay for 11 years, introduced him to different aspects of the superintendent position in the past year.
“He will do an outstanding job as superintendent. The district will be in good hands,” Fuschetto said.
As the new superintendent, deKay will face a few ongoing issues in the school district, according to the stakeholder feedback during the hiring process. That means focusing on addressing low student attendance, weak broadband internet access, low parental involvement, diversity in staffing, and student and staff retention.
“I’m grateful that Rocco has reached out and has been kind of guiding me this year,” deKay said. “Also, I feel like I have a vision for where I would like the district to go, and I’m anxious to get started with that.”
DeKay said he didn’t plan to make systemic changes. Rather, he aimed to take systems that the district knows are working and apply them to the whole district.
“At the end of the day, I’m really grateful for the opportunity,” deKay said. “I think the board knows I really care about the community, and I’ll work really hard to improve things.”