Board to interview superintendent finalists

RANGELY — School board members are moving forward on finding a replacement for Superintendent Dwayne Newman.
Board members as well as other interested parties will interview three finalists this weekend for the superintendent’s job. The district received about eight or nine applications for the position, said Matt Scoggins, school board president.
“You always like a larger pool, but we did have a nice selection,” Scoggins said. “Originally, we narrowed it down to four (finalists), but we had one withdraw. He was offered another job.”
A decision on a final candidate could be made as soon as next week, Scoggins said.
“I would think within a couple of days, if we’re certain we have the right candidate,” Scoggins said. “We have that 14-day waiting period, so nothing can be final until we get past that 14-day period. We can begin some negotiations with that candidate, but we can’t make an offer or come to an agreement until after that time.”
The three finalists will arrive in Rangely on Friday.
“They will eat lunch with administrators,” Scoggins said. “Then they will tour district facilities, to get them familiar with the school district. We’ll have an informal get-together with candidates and school board members that evening. Then we get serious Saturday morning, with three separate interview committees.”
One committee is made up of school board members, while the other two committees consist of school administrators and staff, as well as parents of students.
“While they don’t make the decision, they provide input to the school board, which will make the ultimate decision about hiring,” Scoggins said.
Candidates will meet for one hour with each committee.
“(This system) worked really well last time,” Scoggins said of the process the board used to hire Newman. “We got a lot of input and different perspectives. It helped us make a good selection.”
The district has used a service provided by the Colorado Association of School Boards to help in finding candidates for the superintendent’s job and narrowing down a list of finalists.
“We utilized CASB to help us with this part of the selection process, so background checks were done through them,” Scoggins said.
While the board wants to take the time to find the right candidate, it is also moving as quickly as possible to fill the position.
“I think there are a lot of (districts) out there looking for a superintendent,” Scoggins said. “There is a certain amount of competition, which is one reason why we want to make our decision right away, so if we have someone really good we won’t lose them. We want to get a good leader in here.”
The three finalists are:
• Patrick Cullen, who is superintendent of schools in Oberlin, Kan. He has been in education for more than 25 years, including nine years as a superintendent, seven of which he also doubled as a principal, two years as a principal only and 15 years as a teacher.
• James Szoka, who is principal at Monte Vista High School. He has been a school administrator for 22 years and has a master’s degree in education.
• Phillip Williams, principal of a primary school in Wise County, Va. He has 12 years of experience in education, including five years as a teacher, and he served as an assistant principal for five years. Prior to becoming an educator, he was a railroad engineer for 10 years.
Kevin Chalfant, high school principal at Peyton, accepted a superintendent’s job, narrowing Rangely’s list of finalists to three.