Durango School District 9-R has revealed three finalists for superintendent, including an educational consultant from Houston, a superintendent of a Kentucky school district and the talent acquisition director for Pueblo schools.
The district’s three finalists were whittled down from a field of 26 who submitted applications to be the district’s next superintendent. They are:
Andrew Burns, who currently leads training, staff evaluation and employee recruitment and retention strategies for the Pueblo School District. From 2018 to 2020, Burns served as 9-R’s deputy superintendent, providing guidance to the district’s two high school principals and the athletic director. Burns also oversaw the district’s discipline process and served as liaison to Durango’s charter schools. He lived in Durango from 2006 to 2020.Karen D. Cheser, who currently serves as superintendent for Fort Thomas Independent Schools in Kentucky, where she led development of a district vision that guides efforts to prepare students for the future workplace. The district uses a blended learning approach that focuses on project-based learning tailored to students’ passions, career explorations and the use of technology. She also served as a host and project leader for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s USA Lab, which focused on working with businesses to provide worked-based learning opportunities for high school students.Robert Lundin, who currently serves as a strategic consultant with Burns/Van Fleet Educational Consulting of Houston, providing advising services to multiple urban superintendents and school boards about long-term strategies to strengthen their districts. His previous job was as assistant commissioner with the Tennessee Education Department, where he led the state agency responsible for policy and oversight of the state’s charter schools, virtual schools and nonpublic schools. From 2018 to 2019, he served as assistant superintendent and executive director for Spring Independent School District in Harris County, TexasSchool board President Kristin Smith said the finalists had years of experience in district administrative positions giving them a breadth of understanding of all departments and educational needs.
“All three candidates are interested in culture, equity and inclusion work in our system,” she said in an email. “All three candidates would like to work toward the best student results possible minimizing the opportunity gaps amongst students.”
A Zoom meeting with all three candidates will be open to the public at 6 p.m. Monday. A link for the meeting will soon be added to 9-R’s website.
“The board will ask the candidates questions publicly, and there will be a live survey for those community members attending to participate in,” Smith said. “The board will review all of the feedback gained through the survey before they make their final selection.”
The school board plans to select the next superintendent March 11 in a closed session and begin contract negotiations. On March 12, the board will notify the unchosen semifinalists of their choice.
State law requires the district to wait at least 14 days before making its choice of the next superintendent public. The district plans to make its choice public March 26.
The new superintendent is expected to start July 1.
Lundin has a doctorate in educational leadership from Vanderbilt University. A master’s degree in bilingual and English as a second language education from the University of Saint Thomas in Houston, and a bachelor’s degree in political science and policy studies from Rice University.
Cheser has a doctorate in education, master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in education all from Northern Kentucky University.
Burns has a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Georgia, a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Notre Dame and has taken course work for a doctorate in special education at the University of Northern Colorado.