The Durango School District 9-R Board of Education narrowed its list of superintendent candidates to 10 people from 26 total applicants in a closed session Tuesday.
“As a group, these are people who are invested in building relationships in their communities and in their school districts. That’s something that I would say is true of all of the 10 candidates,” said 9-R School Board President Kristin Smith.
The 10 candidates also have a proven record of fostering academic success among students, she said.
Candidates come from across the country with several from Colorado.
The plan is for two or three board members to conduct video meet-and-greet interviews with the 10 candidates. All of the interviews will be recorded for the other board members to watch to help narrow the field to six candidates.
A high number of superintendent vacancies across the country has accelerated the school board’s pace for cutting candidates down to two or three finalists.
“There are multiple hiring pools across the state and in other states as well. Right now, finding a quality superintendent is a super-competitive process, which is why we’ve kind of expedited our timeline,” Smith said.
She added: “Our consultants advised us to push our dates up quite a bit, by like three weeks, so that we can stay competitive with other school districts across the state and the nation for the best candidates. Those really highly qualified or highly sought-after individuals are going to go first, and you want to be picking from the first pool, not the third pool.”
The goal is to announce the next superintendent March 26. State law prevents making the name of the next superintendent public until 14 days after the person is hired, so Smith said the district aims to have hired its next superintendent by March 12.
The district began looking for its next leader in mid-November when the current superintendent, Dan Snowberger, announced he will resign at the end of June. Snowberger has led the district for the past nine years.
Most of the final 10 candidates are superintendents in other districts, but not all of them.
“They’re all proven, trusted superintendents, or, if they’re not a superintendent, they’ve been proven as a valued, trusted employee in their position,” Smith said.
The group of 10 candidates will be cut to six candidates next week, again in executive session, which likely will be held Feb. 25.
After the candidates are cut to six, Smith said a resume review committee will examine the six applicants’ curricula vitae, letters of recommendation and other documents in their application packages and provide their input about the candidates to help guide the school board.
The resume review committee is made up of teachers, parents, students and administrators from the district, as well as community members representing different stakeholders, such as the city, county and business community.
Comments from members of the resume review committee will be used to reduce the six candidates to probably three or perhaps two finalists.
Candidates’ names will not be made public until the school board is down to its final two or three finalists. The finalists will be brought to Durango to meet the community March 8-9, when Zoom community meetings are planned with them.