After nearly six months of planning and working with the community and the Colorado Association of School Boards to find a new superintendent, the school board landed on a candidate to take lead of the district.
The Re-2 district announced last week interim Superintendent Heather Grumley is the sole finalist to replace Brent Curtice, whose contract was terminated in February.
“This is really big news for us, our staff and our three communities,” Anne Guettler, school board president said.
Grumley has been with the district for 26 years, starting as a teacher and athletic coach before moving into an instructional coach role and later a principal at Graham Mesa Elementary.
Grumley spent the past three years as the assistant superintendent for the district.
“I think it was the perfect storm. A lot of things culminated together at the right time, and I think during the interview process I realized that the people in our district mean the utmost to me,” Grumley said.
“To be able to have the opportunity to lead them and bring stability for our future kind of hit me sideways. I thought to myself, ‘You know what, Heather? Maybe this work is for you,’ and I think the board thought the same thing.”
Grumley’s current salary of $155,000 and was negotiated as part of the move to Interim Superintendent, which was beginning salary that the Board was offering as part of the advertised superintendent search.
The board is negotiating a new contract with Ms. Grumley, that will go into affect when she takes the Superintendency on July 1.
Guettler said after the district held 16 focus groups that included staff, students and community members one main theme is they like the direction the district is headed and they didn’t want someone coming in and undoing the progress the district has been making.
“A lot happened between our early January focus groups and last week’s interviews. Probably one of the big things is we received our financial audit results,” Guettler said.
“When Heather first came on board she had to deal with a lot of big items and events. We tasked her with educating our staff and community about the significance of our financial state.”
Earlier this month the district selected three finalists and had planned to bring in the candidates for a meet and greet with the public and school site tours, but with the outbreak of COVID-19 in the county events were canceled.
“We had a candidate coming in from out of town. We just felt we really needed to create a different process,” Guettler said.
The district ended up doing online interviews with two candidates after the third dropped out.
“For theirs and everyone else’s safety, we needed to create an online process.” Guettler added.
The online process made it difficult and challenging for the board and the community interviewers to get a feel for either candidate.
“As a board we really listened to that. We recognized that it’s very difficult to hire somebody that hasn’t come into your community,” Guettler said.
“The thing we realized, we just felt like we had someone exceptional in Heather. She is an excellent fit, and we know that we can continue to build a team around her to set our goals and address our problems.”
Grumley said, over her short tenure of leading the district, going through the shutdown of extracurricular activities and the schools in the last two weeks solidified her resolve to put her name in for the position and continue to lead the district into the future.
“She has really impressed our board in the way she has handled and managed all the daily challenges she has been given,” Guettler said.
“We recognized that stability in relationships are the foundation that we are going to build our future on.”
Both Guettler and Grumley agreed that things are moving pretty fast for the district as they move toward an online platform, trying to get the staff up to speed.
The district hopes to create some opportunities for the interview committees, and community members have some access to Heather next week via online, but their main focus is on getting distance learning up and running for their students.
“We have been working diligently, our instructional and tech teams have been working around the clock for at least a week. We want to roll out a training program for all our educators, instructional coaches, department head, and teacher leaders in the upcoming weeks,” Grumley said.
With school facilities closed through April 17, Re-2 hopes to have teachers creating lessons by April 2 for a projected April 6 launch date of online learning.
The district is working on schedules and delivery of devices to families that do not have the technology at this time.
“The ultimate goal is having 100 percent of our kids learning during this time, and really it’s about taking stock of the community’s needs and finding out our families that are in need of not only the technology and devices themselves, but their internet access and capabilities to the content,” Grumley said.