School board sets aggressive timeline to find permanent superintendent by Aug. 1 |

School board sets aggressive timeline to find permanent superintendent by Aug. 1

Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Brad Meeks and Board of Education President Katy Lee listen to teachers speak during public comment on March 28, 2022. Meeks is stepping down and the board is looking to hire a superintendant by Aug. 1.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today.

The Steamboat Springs Board of Education will try to find the district’s next permanent superintendent now, rather than hiring an interim for the role, the board indicated on Monday, May 23.

Board members had questioned whether the move would allow for enough time for adequate input from the community on the district’s next leader, but Norm Ridder with consultant McPherson and Jacobson said he was confident the opening in Steamboat would attract strong candidates.

“We don’t hire the superintendent, you guys do,” Ridder told the board on Monday. “We’re going to give you the talent and you are going to have a tough decision.”

Ridder, the board, and consultant Christy Sinner — who is also the superintendent in the Hayden School District — laid out an aggressive timeline that would hope to have the new superintendent start by Aug. 1.

On Monday, board members brainstormed traits for the job posting and settled on a pay range of between $190,000 and $230,000 a year. Outgoing superintendent Brad Meeks currently makes about $214,000 a year, but Ridder said it is common for a new person in that role to get paid more than the person vacating it.

Community involvement will include an online survey that will be available from June 3-10 and in-person meetings with various stakeholders that could come as soon as next week. These groups include administration, staff, students and parents/community. Board President Katy Lee said comments in either setting would be given the same weight.

While Ridder said he was confident that finding quality candidates wouldn’t be a problem — people had already reached out to him about the job on Monday — if there are not enough quality applicants by June 20 when the application closes, the board could shift to looking for an interim superintendent.

If the board had posted for an interim now, Ridder said he would expect that most of the applicants would either be like outgoing Superintendent Brad Meeks, meaning they have lots of experience but are unlikely to want the job long term, or they would be applying for the interim role with the hope of taking hold of the job long-term.

Ridder said he hoped to get at least 25 applications. After the application closes, the consultants would go through and curate what they believed were the strongest candidates and present them to the board, likely picking as many as 10 of them. Ridder said the board would still have access to information from all the applicants.

The board will then meet on June 27 to review those candidates and select three or four finalists — a process that can now take place outside of public view because of a law passed in the Colorado Legislature this session.

The law allows this discussion to happen in executive session only if the school board would name multiple finalists and interview each of them in a public session. Still, the board can then go back behind closed doors to further interview and instruct staff to start negotiating with a preferred candidate.

Board members reserved July 20, 21 and 22 to do these interviews, though it may not require all three days. The board would then make its final selection on July 22, with an anticipated start date of Aug. 1, though board members noted that was a quick turn around.

Ridder said those dates would be in the application, and candidates should be prepared for a quick timeline.

“If it’s not looking good by (June 20) we’ll come and have an emergency meeting with you guys,” Ridder said, noting they would start looking for an interim candidate at that point.

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