Jeffco Board of Education hired Daniel McMinimee as superintendent for the Jefferson County School District with a split vote Tuesday night.
Despite disagreement among board members and chanting from the audience, the board May 27 approved hiring of McMinimee by a 3-2 vote, with board members Jill Fellman and Lesley Dahlkemper opposed.
“I think we made an outstanding choice for the superintendent of Jeffco, and I am delighted we are able to move forward with the hiring process,” said Board President Ken Witt.
The board had a lengthy discussion about McMinimee's hiring and key points — such as salary and performance measures — in his contract. In the process, several motions, subordinate motions and amendments were voted down by a three-two vote of the majority.
McMinimee is assistant superintendent of secondary education in Douglas County School District. He has been with the district for 12 years and started as the founding principal of Rock Canyon High School in 2003.
“I think tonight's meeting sent the wrong message to our community,” Dahlkemper said. “I have never seen this district more divided than it is right now. My hope is that we would be able to come together, and we would work together.”
Prior to the discussion, the board received a copy of a petition, gathered by community member Michael Clark, and heard 22 of the 87 people signed up to address the board.
During the allotted 45 minutes, many people urged the board to not hire McMinimee, and said the board should follow set practices, be transparent, listen to the community and reopen the search process, which cost $40,000.
“I have become very concerned with what has been going on,” Clark said. “The board has done a lot of things that has violated their own board policies, including the fact they didn't properly follow their superintendent search. I actually did vote for both Mr. Witt and Mr. (John) Newkirk and that makes my disappointment that much greater.”
Out of 63 applicants, McMinimee was named the sole finalist for the position on May 10, instead of narrowing the process to three candidates at that point. In his new position, McMinimee will manage more than 85,000 students who attend the district's 155 schools.
“Moving forward we want to do everything that we can that's in the best interest of kids and continue to work towards those goals that set student achievement,” Dahlkemper said.
According to the draft contract, McMinimee will earn a base salary of $280,000, with the addition of bonuses and some covered expenses over the next five years. The salary is about 27 percent more than his predecessor, Cindy Stevenson, who made $204,000 annually.
The board will discuss and vote on the final details of his contract during its next scheduled board meeting June 5. His start date is July 1 on the proposed contract but has been confirmed.
Despite the evening's interactions, some community members, such as Lisa Lee, a teacher at Wheat Ridge Middle School, felt excited about the unity she's seen among the Jeffco teachers, parents and the community, since the new board was seated last November.
“Other than everything else that you've probably heard, I'm mostly excited,” Lee said following the meeting. “I'm excited because it's unified our community with a common cause that I've never seen before.”
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