JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. - The Jefferson County Board of Education passed a motion Tuesday by a 3-2 vote to hire Daniel McMinimee as the next superintendent of Jeffco Public Schools.
The decision is pending contract approval which won't be finalized until the board's next meeting on June 5.
At the special board meeting on Tuesday evening, an estimated 250 people packed the board room. The school board allowed for 45 minutes of public comment prior to voting to hire McMinimee. The majority in attendance did not feel that 45 minutes would be enough for everyone who wanted their voice heard.
"We have to be able to conduct board business, we have to be able to get through the decision making process and we have an agenda that says it's 45 minutes speaking," said board president Ken Witt. "It was published well in advance and everyone who signed up was aware of both the timing and the time limit."
"This board said, 'No, we're not interested in hearing public comment. We're not interested in hearing what you have to say about the single most important decision we will make,' and that's hiring the next leader of this school district," said board member Lesley Dahlkemper.
At the meeting, a handful spoke in favor of the lone superintendent candidate, while the majority called for the board to consider more finalists.
"If you want this board to be credible and the community (to) put up with your agenda, then start acting credible," said parent Craig Middleton. "Right now, you're acting as if you've been bought by some larger agenda or reform group, with no regard for anyone including the kids. Please prove me wrong by opening back up the superintendent search and completing a legitimate process that we can all feel comfortable with."
The board announced May 10 that it only had one finalist for the job -- McMinimee.
McMinimee is currently the assistant superintendent of secondary education for Douglas County Schools. He has also served as a principal, assistant principal, coach and teacher in the Salem-Keizer School district in Oregon.
"We had a robust pool of highly-qualified candidates from which to choose," said board president Ken Witt. "We are very pleased with the finalist who has emerged as the top contender for the job of Jeffco superintendent. We want to ensure that we have the very best person to lead the district’s 85,000 students and 14,000 employees with excellence."
During the meeting, board member John Newkirk referenced that the board had five or six semifinalists, but that those identities could not be revealed because of confidentiality reasons.
One parent started a petition drive on Change.org asking the board to reconsider the announcement, reexamine the candidate pool and announce three to four new finalists. At 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, the petition had more than 3,300 signatures. As of midnight Wednesday, it had more than 5,500 signatures.
-- McMinimee proposed contract --
Jefferson County Public Schools released the draft contract for McMinimee last week.
The offer has a starting salary of $280,000 per year that can be increased from "time to time," according to the contract. It does not list incentives or goals tied to salary increases. It does say the superintendent will be evaluated each year in January.
During the meeting, there was a motion to change the salary to $200,000. Witt offered to amend the $200,000 proposal to $240,000, but that was not agreed upon. The $200,000 salary change failed.
The contract allows the superintendent to "undertake consultation work, speaking engagements, writing, lecturing, and other professional activities for pay during the days allowed for vacation or personal leave or outside of normal working hours."
The superintendent may teach or serve at the college or university level on a part-time basis, with approval from the Jefferson County Board of Education.
The contract is for a five year period starting July 1, but board members hinted this could be changed to a three year deal when the final contract is voted on at the June 5 meeting.