Su­per­in­ten­dent Dan McMin­imee has served Jef­fco schools well»

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST -

Jef­fer­son County schools su­per­in­ten­dent Dan McMin­imee’s fate was prob­a­bly sealed on that Novem­ber day a year ago when the three board mem­bers who hired him were de­ci­sively ousted in a re­call elec­tion. Now the con­clud­ing act in the drama is about to un­fold, with a board vote sched­uled next month on whether to launch a search for a new su­per­in­ten­dent.

The Jan­uary agenda item “es­sen­tially means they are not of­fer­ing Dan a contract ex­ten­sion,” district spokes­woman Diana Wil­son told Chalk­beat.

That’s the board’s pre­rog­a­tive, of course, but they at least should be straight­for­ward about what the ac­tion means rather than try to sug­ar­coat it. Board pres­i­dent Ron Mitchell re­leased a state­ment claim­ing, im­plau­si­bly, “if the board de­cides to be­gin the search for a new su­per­in­ten­dent, that ac­tion should not be viewed as a com­men­tary on the board’s es­ti­ma­tion of Dan’s abil­i­ties or his per­for­mance in the role of su­per­in­ten­dent.”

That’s hard to take se­ri­ously. Of course the ac­tion should be viewed as a re­flec­tion of the board’s as­sess­ment of McMin­imee’s per­for­mance. If board mem­bers were en­tirely sat­is­fied, they would be fool­ish to launch a search.

Some on the board ob­vi­ously be­lieve they can find a more ef­fec­tive leader and ad­vo­cate for their agenda.

For the record, we think McMin­imee has per­formed ad­mirably un­der in­cred­i­bly try­ing cir­cum­stances since he was hired in 2014, with crit­ics un­fairly at­tack­ing his qual­i­fi­ca­tions and luridly mis­rep­re­sent­ing his salary dur­ing the re­call cam­paign. Few ob­servers would have been sur­prised had the new board moved to re­place McMin­imee al­most im­me­di­ately. In­stead, it ap­pears they will wait un­til his contract ex­pires in 2017 to com­plete the district’s tran­si­tion to new lead­er­ship.

Whether McMin­imee stays or goes, the Jef­fco su­per­in­ten­dent will face the daunt­ing task of bol­ster­ing lack­lus­ter pub­lic sup­port for the district’s goals. Just last month, Jef­fco vot­ers re­jected two bal­lot mea­sures de­signed to up­grade fa­cil­i­ties and keep teacher salaries com­pet­i­tive. Both a bond re­quest and a mill-levy over­ride were fairly close votes, but a loss is still a loss.

By con­trast, across the state vot­ers ap­proved two-thirds of school bond re­quests and 60 per­cent of mill-levy tax hikes. And those suc­cesses in­cluded big dis­tricts like Den­ver, Cherry Creek and Boul­der.

The next Jef­fco su­per­in­ten­dent will have many chal­lenges, but he or she should be some­one who can start the process of con­vinc­ing a broader swath of vot­ers that the back­log of district needs, which in­clude re­plac­ing 250 ag­ing por­ta­ble class­rooms, can­not be fully met with ex­ist­ing re­sources.

Al­though the ran­cor and name­call­ing that char­ac­ter­ized Jef­fco schools pol­i­tics for two years quickly sub­sided af­ter the re­call, most vot­ers ap­par­ently re­main wary of en­trust­ing the district with more of their hard-earned in­come. And their fu­ture sup­port will have to be earned by a leader with an abil­ity to unite the com­mu­nity — who ap­peals not only to teach­ers and ed­u­ca­tion in­sid­ers, but to skep­ti­cal res­i­dents, too.

Jef­fco schools su­per­in­ten­dent Dan McMin­imee ap­pears to be on his way out, as the school board is plan­ning to dis­cuss a search for a new chief.

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