School board taking its time in superintendent search for Vail Valley | VailDaily.com

School board taking its time in superintendent search for Vail Valley

Mel Preusser was Eagle County Schools' interim superintendent three times and superintendent once. The school board says it will take its time and collect lots of public input as it selects a replacement for Jason Glass. Glass is leaving to head Jefferson County schools.

EAGLE — Eagle County's school board has time to find a new superintendent and will take some of it to replace outgoing superintendent Jason Glass.

Glass is headed to Jefferson County to run Colorado's second largest school district — 86,000 students.

For now, that probably means an interim superintendent for the 2017-18 school year, with the new super starting the following year, 2018-19, board members said.

What they want

So far, school board members have a pretty good idea of what they want — and what they don't. Board members Kate Cocchiarella and Tessa Kirchner have been through this before; they were on the board when the board hired Glass in 2013.

"We want someone to steer the ship. We're on the right path and we want someone to keep things moving steadily forward," said school board president, Kate Cocchiarella. "We're not looking for a change agent."

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At the other end of that spectrum, school board member Kevin Kottenstette was a teacher back when one of the interim superintendents rolled through. As the interim was making the rounds of local schools, meeting the staff, he had everyone stand in a big circle and hold hands.

That get-acquainted confab fell apart when the hand-holding interim wanted everyone to sing, Kottenstette said, chuckling at the memory.

If a candidate walks on water down the Eagle River and into the school district offices, then sure the school board could hire a new superintendent before 2018-19.

But several school board members said they're confident in the district's direction and an interim would be fine for a year.

Besides, taking their time allows the board to take a more reasoned, careful and publicly transparent approach, Cocchiarella said.

They'll schedule several community meetings to gather ideas about what people want and select a search firm that the board feels is the best fit, Cocchiarella said.

Superintendents roll over more often than you might think. The Council of Great City Schools found that the average tenure of current urban superintendents increased from 2.8 years in 2003 to 3.18 years in 2014. Of those urban superintendents, 21 percent have been in the job for five years or more, up from 15 percent in 2003.

EdSource surveyed California's 30 largest school districts and found that in 17 of those districts, the superintendents have been in office for three years or less.

Is Mel available?

Mel Preusser retired after three stints as Eagle County Schools' interim superintendent and one as the permanent chief. Before Eagle County, he spent 20 years with Douglas County schools as a teacher and administrator.

After he turned in his keys in Eagle, he spent much of the following school year in Leadville, as the interim principal of both elementary schools there. After that, he spent some time working in Edwards Elementary School to help with teacher evaluations and analyze the mountains of data produced by testing kids several times per year.

Our series of supers

Eagle County schools has seen superintendents come and go over the decades. Former superintendent Mel Preusser was interim three times before taking the top job in 2000. If you can think of others, drop us a line at randy@vaildaily.com.

• Jason Glass, present

• Sandra Smyser

• John Pacheco, Interim

• John Brendza

• Mel Preusser

• Ray Glynn

• Mel Preusser, Interim

• John Hefty

• Mel Preusser, Interim

• Chuck Schwan

• Mel Preusser, Interim

• Leonard Hammock