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Three schools search for principals

Cindy Ramunno

EAGLE-VAIL – Battle Mountain High School is currently searching for a lead dog for its pack of Huskies. The Eagle County School District has been searching for a principal for the school since the departure of Mark Bullock. Bullock resigned in early December to pursue other career opportunities. The position has been advertised since then and district administrators are actively recruiting within the district, in Colorado and across the country. “We’ve been pretty aggressive about that,” says superintendent John Brendza. Brendza and his staff are also busy trying to find principals for Brush Creek Elementary and Eagle Valley Elementary — both in Eagle — since Christine Mayhew and Ann Marie Sanders retired. “We’ve been soliciting staff input from staff members at each school,” says Brendza. Applications continue to pour in for all positions. The district has received approximately 180. Feb. 18 is the last day to submit applications. For each position, a committee will do the preliminary work. At Battle Mountain, two parents, two staff members and the district’s director of secondary education, Mike Gass, will serve on the selection committee. The district’s human resources director, Trisha Theelke, will oversee the process, which will include a paper screening and then interviews two weeks prior to spring break. After interviews, the committee will submit their top three candidate choices to superintendent Brendza, who, along with assistant superintendent Karen Strakbein, will then conduct a second round of interviews. “I will make the final determination,” says Brendza, who emphasizes that he wants a very strong candidate pool from which the committee can select from. The position of high school principal is no doubt a tough one. The responsibility of public high school principals in the area has increased over the years as administrative budgets decrease and student enrollment continues to rise. “Quality high school principals are very difficult to find,” Brendza says. “I want to get the best person possible. If we don’t find a match, we’ll continue to search until we get the right fit.”Brendza also says a candidate who is speaks English and Spanish would be a plus at Battle Mountain High School. In the meantime, Jim Melhouse from the Front Range is filling in as the interim principal at the school. Melhouse has been a high school teacher and in administrator for more than 30 years at Arvada West High School and Lakewood High School. Melhouse is currently retired and lives in the Frisco area. Brendza says Melhouse comes with an impeccable reputation. “Jim is very kid-focused. The first day he was at Battle Mountain, he was sitting on the couch in the front office introducing himself to all the kids,” Brendza says. The first thing Melhouse noticed at Battle Mountain was the warm, welcoming reception., he says.He was first introduced at a staff meeting, and spent the rest of that day walking through the building and visiting with students. “I left the first day at Battle Mountain very impressed with what I saw,” says Melhouse. “This school is a very high-energy place with high academic standards.” Melhouse also commented on the courteous, polite behavior of the students and that students talked about their school with pride. “I’m looking forward to doing this job,” Melhouse says. “It’s going to be a positive experience.”Vail Colorado


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