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Local schools pick temporary chief

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE ” The school board has hired an interim superintendent, and leaders are hoping that this fresh set of eyes will offer a candid view of what needs work and what doesn’t in Eagle County schools.

John D. Pacheco will replace John Brendza, who resigned at the end of June after four years as superintendent and 24 years with the district. Pacheco has been a teacher, principal and superintendent in several schools and districts throughout Colorado.

Pacheco will not likely be a candidate for a permanent superintendent’s job and will stay on only for the 2007-2008 school year, board president Scott Green said.



The board will soon begin a search for a permanent superintendent, possibly hiring one in December to start in July 2008.

The board wanted an interim that could “get things done,” but the board didn’t want to rush into hiring a permanent position, Green said.



“That’s the beauty of an interim ” you’re more likely to get a straight up view from the outside, what the issues truly are,” Green said. “Politically, he’s not vying for that next job.”

Pacheco earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education, Spanish and math at Southern Colorado State College in 1969. He earned his master’s degree in curriculum and instruction in 1974 at the University of Northern Colorado.

He has since been a superintendent in Weld County School District in Greeley and Woodland Park School District near Colorado Springs. He helped pass a $14.6 million bond issue and a $1.1 million mill levy override in November 2003 for Woodland Park School District.



“John worked tirelessly for issues that could make a lasting impact on our district,” said Jenny Cowan, a past Woodland Park School District board president. “He was a great leader for our district in that he was able to manage any issue with a calm demeanor and a willingness to listen to all sides.”

Green said Pacheco is community oriented, a good communicator and has a positive attitude, all qualities that will greatly help the school district.

“I think he has a healing qualities, if you want to use that word, and a lot of people’s feelings are hurt now, quite frankly. A lot of change,” Green said.

There are plenty of challenges that an ideal superintendent would love to tackle in Eagle County, school officials say. They’ll be keeping these things in mind while searching for a permanent superintendent.

One big issue is Teacher Advancement Program, known as TAP, a sweeping education reform started five years ago that ties teacher pay to performance. Eagle County is the only school district in the nation to eliminate the “lock step” salary program which guarantees how much a teacher will be paid every year.

“We want to see someone to move the district forward, someone who is a terrific communicator, someone who believes in the reform effort that the district has put forward,” said Connie Kincaid-Strahan, vice president of the school board.

The other big issue is the so called “achievement gap,” a term used to describe the large number of Spanish speaking students struggling to catch up with their English speaking classmates.

“Our achievement gap is huge, and we want to be moving all kids up,” Green said.

Staff writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.


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