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Search for principals begins

Howell, administrators, School Board discuss process

Brent Boyer

The process to replace two successful Steamboat Springs School District principals is in full swing — with nine months remaining before the 2005-06 school year begins.

On Monday, Superintendent Donna Howell met with district administrators and the School Board to identify the characteristics they want to see in the two individuals who will be asked to replace Strawberry Park’s John DeVincentis and Steamboat Springs High School’s Dave Schmid.

DeVincentis, in his 21st year at Strawberry Park Elementary School, and Schmid, in his 10th year at the high school, will retire at the end of the school year. Both men have led their schools to “excellent” state ratings, and Schmid was named 2002 Colorado High School Principal of the Year.

“It’s always difficult to replace someone who’s been long-term and successful in their position,” Howell said Monday.

Key to finding the best replacements is engaging all stakeholders in the search process, she said. Howell has met with the staffs of each school and the parents of some Strawberry Park students. She meets with high school parents at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the school’s Upper Spring Creek pod, and she plans to meet with students soon.

Howell is asking each group of stakeholders the same two questions as she looks to establish a profile for the ideal candidates: what are the characteristics people want in their principals and what should each new principal do in his or her first three to six months on the job.

“The whole point is to get as much input as we possibly can from staff, students, parents and the board,” Howell said. “Not only are we looking for the best match for each school, but (we’re) also doing whatever we can to set them up for success.”

Monday’s brainstorming session, which took place immediately before the School Board’s regularly scheduled meeting, produced dozens of characteristics board members and administrators would like to see in DeVincentis’ and Schmid’s successors.

Characteristics such as good communication skills, a positive attitude, energy and motivation, support of a district-wide vision and the ability to understand the needs of different student populations, such as English Language Learners, were identified as traits both principals should have. Others, such as an eagerness and ability to partner with Soda Creek Elementary School and experience with alternative education programs were more school-specific.

Steamboat Springs Middle School assistant principal Jerry Buelter also urged Howell to consider internal candidates.

Howell plans to combine the prioritized list of characteristics provided by each stakeholder group to form a profile of the ideal candidates. Advertisements for the two positions will begin appearing in publications in the coming weeks.

Howell said she plans to close the application period by Jan. 21, after which the list of applicants will be pared down before formal interviews begin. Extensive background checks and site visits for the finalists also will be part of the process. Interview teams consisting of parent, staff, administrative and School Board representatives will be assembled, but the ultimate hiring decisions will be left to Howell.

“The goal is to have successful candidates identified by the end of February or the beginning of March,” she said. She hopes to have the new principals hired by the middle of March.

— To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234 or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com


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