Jefferson County Board of Education announced Douglas County Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Daniel McMinimee as the sole finalist in its superintendent search.
By 3-2 vote by the board, McMinimee was chosen May 10, from more than 60 candidates as the most qualified candidate.
“He is a strong leader who has exactly what Jeffco needs,” said board president Ken Witt.
McMinimee, who has been employed by Douglas County School District for 12 years, said he is looking forward both professionally and personally to the opportunity to serve the district where he grew up and currently resides.
“Professionally, it’s a great opportunity,” McMinimee said. “Jeffco schools is one of the biggest and most diverse districts, and has a great reputation with students, and I want to be a part of it.”
At the beginning of his term, Witt announced he did not want to put Jeffco in a situation similar to Douglas County, which has experienced contention with the teachers’ association and lawsuits over school vouchers.
The naming of McMinimee as the superintendent finalist sends the opposite message, according to critics.
“It’s very concerning,” said Jonna Levine, co-founder of Support Jeffco Kids, a community organization formed to inform Jeffco residents about the board of education’s actions. “This is all very disappointing, and I think the community is going to be disappointed. This is the most important decision the board is ever going to make and, they’re (the finalist) from Dougco.”
The choosing of a superintendent comes at an important time for Jeffco, as the district is currently in mediation with the Jefferson County Educators Association (JCEA) after negotiations broke down earlier this year.
“I value teachers and what they bring to the district,” McMinimee said. “It’s about partnership and working with teachers to have the best possible people in the classroom.”
In the 2012 negotiations with Dougco, McMinimee was the lead negotiator for the district, which put in about 100 hours working with associations to come to an agreement on a majority of issues. In that situation, the board ultimately decided to end the contract with the associations.
McMinimee, a former teacher, said while he respected the Dougco board’s decision, it isn’t what he would like to see happen in the future in Jeffco.
“We’re all on the same team, and we’re working towards having the best possible outcome we can have,” he said. “The team is bigger than the individual and we are aiming for the same thing, and that’s to have great experiences for 85,000 kids.”
Witt said, “Dan is a strong leader and will focus on academic achievements set by this board. He is not bringing any other agenda, and he will do the right things for Jeffco. He is a traditional superintendent with strong ties to Jeffco. The two districts are in no way tied in their approaches, and we will continue to work to propel the district forward.”
Prior to moving to Dougco, McMinimee worked for the Salem-Keizer School District in Salem, Oregon, as a principal, teacher and coach.
McMinimee’s selection was approved on a 3-2 vote, with Witt, Julie Williams and John Newkirk voting in favor, and Lesley Dahlkemper and Jill Fellman opposed.
McMinimee would replace former superintendent Cindy Stevenson, who retired in February.
The board of education is expected to make the final appointment on May 24.
“I’m looking forward to the community engagement,” McMinimee said. “Talking about who I am, where I come from, what I bring to the table, meeting the community, hearing their concerns and celebrating Jeffco schools and all the good things happening in Jeffco.”