Cocchiarella: Parting with superintendent was tough but right decision (column)
My family members are risk takers, much more so than I, but I am happy to be along for the ride. My life has been blessed with many adventures at my husband’s and children’s side. Vicarious experiences from trips beyond my comfort zone are just another added plus to being a Cocchiarella. It is not always the easy road when you leave the well-trodden path. To embrace risk, you must accept failure as well as success; accept the consequences as well as the unexpected windfall. Pushing limits teaches us about ourselves and those with whom we travel.
Each one of us has to come to terms with our acceptable level of risk. How close do you ski to the cornice edge? Ice climbing or ice skating? Some of us are adrenaline junkies and some are nature lovers. The bigger the chances we take, the larger the possible reward or regret. In either case, the lessons we learn can be a genuine gift that contributes to wisdom and better choices down the road.
Executive contracts are designed to minimize the risk for employers and the executive. Sometimes even after an in-depth interview process including input from community committees and meet-and-greet events, the end result differs from the original vision. The executive makes a leap of faith moving to a new community, and we provide a safety net in the form of a buyout clause; this is common practice in large organizations. Choosing the path of leadership presents its own set of risks; slightly different than standing on the cornice edge, but potentially as precarious.
The board of education for Eagle County Schools works collectively to make decisions in the best interest of all of its students. We put our hearts and souls into the unpaid work we do on behalf of our community. We work to challenge each other’s thinking and beliefs. We brainstorm and problem solve. We make mistakes and make course corrections. The mutual separation agreement between the district and our former superintendent was not a decision that was made lightly on either side. I can assure you that many, many hours and much thought went into the process.
The end result is deeper collective wisdom. We learned a lot. We now know more about our needs as a district: our strengths and our weaknesses, the interview and hiring process and what our desires are for the future. We continue to support a culture of inclusiveness, compassion and understanding — as well as achievement, high standards and global-ready citizens. The board of education is dedicated to our district and of our students.
To guide us through the next few months, Philip Qualman, senior assistant superintendent with 15 years of experience in Eagle County Schools, was appointed interim superintendent on Feb. 1. He will serve through June 30. The board and leadership team are confident in his ability to lead us through this transition. The application for the permanent position was posted on Feb. 1. All qualified candidates will be considered. The vetting process will occur throughout the spring, and finalists will be presented to the community in mid-April. A start date of July 1, 2019, is anticipated.
On behalf of the board of education, I thank you sincerely for your continued confidence and for your support of Eagle County Schools.
Kate Cocchiarella is the president of the Eagle County Schools Board of Education. She can be reached at kate.cocchiarella @eagleschools.net.