RFSD Superintendent Rob Stein will step down at the end of the school year. The Board of Education seeks to hire a new superintendent by May to assume the role in July. Courtesy photo

The business of finding a replacement for departing Roaring Fork School District (RFSD) Superintendent Rob Stein began last week with two RFSD Board of Education meetings — a regularly-scheduled meeting on Jan. 26 and a special meeting on Jan. 28. In both meetings, steps were discussed and agreed upon to begin the process of hiring a new superintendent.

Stein, who announced his resignation on Jan. 21, took the helm as superintendent in July 2016, after serving three years as the district’s chief academic officer. Stein’s announcement stated he would be leaving in May, at the end of the school year.

Board members have set the goal of hiring a new superintendent by May to assume the role in July. It’s a tight timeframe, which board members are determined to adhere to while also emphasizing the need for transparency and public input by community stakeholders.

At the Jan. 26 board meeting held via Zoom, the first task in the process was hiring a consultant to search for prospective candidates.

According to a memo from board president Kathryn Kuhlenberg, staff recommended that the board works with a consultant to lead the search process, appoints an advisory committee (pursuant to board policy) to assist with the search, and mirror the district’s hiring process for principals and directors as much as possible to ensure transparency, consistency and collaboration.

The memo also recommended working with the chief of human resources and chief financial officer on contract negotiations, compensation recommendations, updating the job description and consulting with past board members and other individuals who have experience with candidate searches.

A rubric was created to rate and rank whether each firm could meet the district’s 11 criteria for hiring, which included communication protocols between the board, community and candidates. It further describes how to best ensure the engagement of underrepresented communities in the recruitment process.

Before the Jan. 26 meeting, four superintendent search firms gave presentations and answered board members’ questions. The four firms submitted proposals to the board, each with varying degrees of experience in satisfying superintendent hires, recognizing the importance of including community voices and price points for consultation fees.

At the special board meeting held Friday, Jan. 28 for the sole purpose of voting on the selection of a consultant firm, the board voted to hire Hazard, Young, Attea, and Associates (HYA) — a firm based in Schaumburg, Illinois.

HYA’s consulting fee for the search was quoted at $24,950. The firm’s representatives committed to finding a superintendent candidate by Apr. 27. HYA conducted RFSD’s superintendent search in 2012 and was responsible for Aspen School District’s 2020 hiring of Superintendent Dr. David Baugh.

COVID-19 protocols

During the public comment portion of the Jan. 26 regular meeting, seven community members addressed the board about the district’s current mask and quarantine mandates. Several parents asked the board to ease its current mask mandate, while others supported the district’s current protocol.

Stein explained that the decision making process for the district’s COVID-19 protocols is based upon guidelines from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). Stein said they also seek input from local public health officials to interpret and comply with those state guidelines.

Stein assured listeners that in formulating the district’s COVID-19 protocols, he was “not trying to have anything stricter than the CDPHE.”

He also acknowledged the difficulty of formulating and implementing policies within a district that serves students from three counties — Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin — each with their own set of rules, vaccination rates and fluctuating numbers of positive COVID cases.  He added, “We’re not going to satisfy the entire community no matter what we do. It’s hard to serve and know we can’t meet everyone’s needs.”

The board unanimously voted to continue the district’s current standard, with Kuhlenberg adding that they will continue weekly meetings to monitor the evolving situation.

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