Moffat County residents brainstorm about the school district, the community and the next superintendent
Focus group helps Moffat County residents to shape the search for next school superintendent
March 16, 2016
Craig — In a brainstorming session that touched on the Moffat County School District and the larger community surrounding it, about 15 residents pondered traits they'd like to see in the next superintendent — and also in the school district as it moves forward.
Mark DeVoti, assistant executive director for the Colorado Association of School Boards, led the focus group in the administration building. Before the discussion got started, he explained the feedback would be used to help create an advertisement for the new superintendent's position and to craft interview questions for the candidates.
The school district has retained CASB to facilitate the superintendent search.
"If you don't have a good superintendent as your leader, everything else under you can crumble," said Gayle Zimmerman, parent of three students in the district, in an interview after the meeting.
Brent Curtice, the current superintendent of the Moffat County School District, accepted the superintendent's position at Garfield School District N. Re-2 last month. He's scheduled to stay on the job in Moffat County through June 30.
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During the focus group, DeVoti asked participants to talk about the community, the school district and the characteristics they want to see in the next superintendent. DeVoti explained a key goal of the focus group was to gather information to educate candidates about the district and the overall community.
Residents said they seek a superintendent who wants to become part of the community — and several noted they hoped the next superintendent will stay at the job for a long period of time. They noted a number of other characteristics they valued, such as honesty, as well.
The discussion took participants into larger educational issues, such as technology, parental involvement and testing. They also pointed out a strong level of candor that exists in the community.
"We're not a sugar-coat community," said Chris Jones, a board member with Friends of Moffat County Education.
Residents also raised the possibility of hiring a superintendent internally — something the district did when it hired Curtice, who'd held the position of assistant superintendent when he was hired. The school district eliminated the assistant superintendent position when Curtice was promoted.
DeVoti stressed the importance of looking at internal candidates in the context of the larger group of applicants.
"We want to consider them and their skills based on everybody that applies," he said.
When residents noted the importance of letting candidates know about the tough budget issues the next superintendent is likely to face, DeVoti responded by taking a broad view.
"These (concerns) are really common around Colorado school districts because of the funding challenges we have," he said.
Focus groups were held on Wednesday and Thursday for those who wanted to contribute to the process.
On Wednesday, DeVoti wrote down the names of community members who would like to participate in the interview process with the candidates. He said interview training was tentatively scheduled for the morning of May 9, with a round of interviews slated for May 10.