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D-49 recruits for top education post after delays

February 22, 2013
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After months of delays, discussion and wrangling over a job description for the top post in Falcon School District 49, the school board finally came to agreement and expects to have a leader in place before next school year.

The search that began late last month is weeks behind when most districts recruit leadership. Searches for superintendents — or in Falcon’s case a chief education officer — usually begin in the fall.

Board members have said they are seeking someone with broad education experience but also an eye for the changing education world to lead the 15,478-student district on the east side of Colorado Springs. The chief education officer will bridge the gap between where the district is now and where the district wants to go, said board President Tammy Harold.

“D-49 is about empowering parents, teachers and principals,” said board Vice President Christopher Wright. “We’re leading the way in education.”

Hiring outside the normal time frame could limit the pool of candidates, some officials have said.

But Wright said the timing may open doors to a wider pool of candidates because the district is not looking for a typical superintendent.

The job was posted Jan. 25 and the district will accept applications until Feb. 28. The pay is listed as “Board Negotiated.”

“I hope we get candidates from all over the country,” Wright said. “We’re getting a different type of leader for the district.”

He said 12 people have applied or are in the process of turning in applications.

Harold echoed the sentiment and said if there aren’t enough good candidates the board will address it.

The chief education officer position was created about two years ago in a massive reorganization. Then Superintendent Bradley Schoeppey announced his resignation about a month later, and left the district the following June — about two years into a five-year contract. Since then, the district has eliminated multi-year employment contracts.

It was familiar occurrence: In the previous 10 years, the district had eight superintendents or interim leaders.

Don Begier, executive director for Education Services, was appointed in August as interim chief education officer with the expectation that he would serve until the permanent leader starts in early summer this year.

He replaced longtime D-49 employee Becky Carter, who came out of retirement to take the job on a short-term basis. Her salary was about $138,000 a year.

Begier has voiced his interest becoming the permanent chief education officer, said D-49 Spokeswoman Stephanie Wurtz.

The school board first tackled the job description in August. Carter said then that the vague description she used caused additional challenges.

A few aspects of the job will be discussed Wednesday at a school board work session, including a time line, direction of selection process and possible pay, Wurtz said.

Contact Kristina Iodice: 636-0162 Twitter @GazetteKristina Facebook Kristina Iodice

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