MONUMENT • A former principal of Columbine High School in Littleton, the site of the 1999 mass shooting, will become the next superintendent of Lewis-Palmer School District 38.
The five-member Board of Education unanimously approved Kenneth Christopher “K.C.” Somers of Aurora to replace retiring Superintendent Karen Brofft.
Board members will set terms of his contract at a special meeting Wednesday.
Somers has “a significant amount of experience, is a local guy and brings a lot of enthusiasm, tenacity and a lot of ideas,” said board President Matthew Clawson.
“It was interesting to see how many qualified candidates we received. And either candidate would be incredible, but we had to narrow it to one individual.”
Somers became principal of Columbine High in Littleton in 2014 and since September 2017 has worked as the learning community director, or area superintendent, for Aurora Public Schools.
He refers to himself as a public school advocate whose “primary platform is to ensure the future success of every student,” D-38 spokeswoman Julie Stephen said.
D-38 parent Karen Heater, who was on the interview selection committee, said Somers is charismatic, and she thinks he will be a collaborator.
“It’s a 5-0 vote, and for this board to vote unanimously on anything, I have to sit back and trust their decision,” she said.
“I hope he can hit the ground running.”
D-38 is a high-performing district in northern El Paso County with 6,895 students this year.
Officials have been trying to figure out how to meet projected enrollment growth from residential construction in the Tri-Lakes area.
Two financing measures failed in the November 2018 election, but the board recently agreed to try again in November, this time with a “single-proposal bond.”
The bond issue, at a yet-to-be-determined amount, would build an elementary school at Jackson Creek, and the district would cover the cost of converting Bear Creek Elementary back to a middle school, as it was originally built.
Somers has had experience with passing a bond in a school district, Heater said.
She also liked that while at Columbine, Somers turned the April 20 anniversary date of the shooting that killed 12 students and a teacher into a day of service.
“He gave it a positive spin so kids could celebrate the community,” Heater said. “We need a leader who’s community-minded.”
D-38 has struggled with fragmentation among parent groups who have been critical of district decisions.
The district hired the Colorado Association of School Boards to assist with the superintendent search, which began in January, after Brofft announced in December that this will be her last year in D-38.
The process netted 60 applicants, 17 viable candidates and three finalists, who were announced March 4.
Josh Middleton, superintendent of Middleton School District in Idaho, withdrew from consideration after being named a finalist. Middleton’s district came under fire last fall, after some staff members wore controversial Halloween costumes and posted photos on social media.
That left Matthew Mann, superintendent of Pleasanton Independent School District in Texas, to compete against Somers for the D-38 job.
In his 19 years in education, Somers also has been a high school principal, elementary school principal, high school assistant principal, family advocate, youth counselor and coach.
He earned his doctorate in education from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Notre Dame.
Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.