Cordrey resigns as superintendent of Rangely schools

RANGELY I After resigning from his position last week, Rangely School District Superintendent Todd Cordrey said he and his family will return to Brighton, Colo., where he will consider whether to continue in K-12 education or further his real estate business.
Cordrey was the RE-4 superintendent for two years.
“We were in Brighton quite a long time; about 20 years,” Cordrey said. “So we have homes there, all kinds of friends and church, and a really strong support system there that we miss.”
Cordrey said he is considering several leadership positions in Denver Metro area school districts, but if he does not return to education, he will oversee the nationwide expansion of ADRES, the Colorado real estate pre-licensing school he founded in 2005 and still owns.
The Rangely superintendent position was Cordrey’s first paid job in a school district. Before that, he served on the Brighton Board of Education for eight years, the last two as its president.
Cordrey said he was pleased with progress the district made during his tenure as superintendent. He was responsible for last year’s push to create Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), which he said will have tangible benefits as the state mandates teacher effectiveness assessments. The board’s parent involvement initiative also prompted programs that Cordrey spearheaded, including a free GED program for parents and the creation of parent action teams.
RE-4 School Board President Adair Norman said he appreciated Cordrey’s efforts to develop the learning communities and engage parents in their children’s education.
“I really like what he’s done with parent involvement,” Norman said. “We’re a long way from where we need to be, but he did a ton to forward that. Everyone’s view of parent involvement is different, and I’ve been an advocate of this for so long…he showed me it wasn’t exactly what I was thinking. What I was thinking was only a part of it.”
Other advances, Cordrey said, include stronger relationships with partner agencies and the community.
“We’ve done a good job of bringing the schools together as well as building our relationship with BOCES,” Cordrey said. “That’s really improved over the last two years. …I’m also proud of the community and the way it came together to invest its time, emotion and financial resources into the district.
“Last spring’s mill levy is a good example of how the community invested its financial resources,” he said. “But it also invested time and emotion. We saw that with increased scholarships, participation at homecoming, parent involvement and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) work.”
Norman said that some labors, like projects related to the board’s top -third student initiative and Cordrey’s communication with staff and the community, didn’t always yield the results Cordrey or the board had hoped for. But other seeds of ideas in place now may grow into fruition later on.
“The top one-third of students, there’s been limited success with that,” Norman said. “I think the charge is still out there and the principals are working on it. Some things have been started we just haven’t seen the results of. I think some of the things are in their infancy and some just needed to be pushed harder.
“Todd did what most superintendents try to do: he really tried to communicate to everyone, and I think he knows it didn’t always go as well as he or we would have liked,” he said. “But he did continue to try to come up with ideas to communicate with the community and staff. I believe he worked hard at it.”
Communication will continue to be critical to addressing the school’s future challenges, Cordrey believes. So will managing its funding.
Even though the district has taken substantive measures to lower costs in a downturn economy, Cordrey said that financial challenges will continue to be a certainty given the state’s ongoing inability to fund schools as required by the School Finance Act.
While the board will eventually have to look at cuts, deficit spending or fundraising, a new superintendent must continue working with the private sector to supplement funding until the state recovers from the recession, he said.
Whoever fills Cordrey’s shoes will also need to address the social factors related to student disciplinary problems and promote consistent responses to misbehavior. Oftentimes, Cordrey said, these factors happen outside of school and range from divorce to abuse to access to alcohol and drugs.
“When we have students who go home and have access to alcohol or marijuana, for example, that bleeds into the productivity of the school district,” Cordrey said. “Those situations manifest themselves as disciplinary actions. It is the school district’s role to work on those social issues because they impact the education the students receive. …That’s going to be an ongoing challenge for the district.”
Ongoing focuses for the district will be meeting Colorado’s standards -based curriculum requirements and utilizing best instructional practices, Cordrey said.
Norman said he was pleased with Cordrey’s performance during his two years in Rangely. He was disappointed, however, that what was initially agreed upon as a five — year term lasted only two and that the school board now has less than three months to advertise for, interview and hire someone into the position.
“Todd came in and gave us two really good years,” Norman said. “He’s not only motivated, he likes people, he likes kids, he likes education and he just did a really good job. He’s a good superintendent and he just continued to get better.
“But what we have to have is more consistency. …If someone makes a decision that’s best for their family, you can’t hold that against them. But unfortunately, that leaves the district with a big void to fill, and we know from experience that later into the season, the candidate pool shrinks.”
The board met Tuesday to discuss its next steps, and Norman said he hopes the board will begin advertising the position in early June.
Cordrey expressed gratitude to Norman for his leadership and advice and said he will miss the “values of hard work and self-reliance” demonstrated by the community and, in particular, his staff.
“The district has had year over year over year improvement, and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue to happen,” he said. “It happens largely because of the diligence and competence of the staff. The new superintendent will greatly benefit from that.”