Interim superintendent doesn’t make Aspen Board of Education’s cut
The following story has been updated to reflect the number of candidates — now five — remaining for the superintendent opening.
Interim Superintendent Tom Heald said Friday he is out of the running for the full-time superintendent vacancy at the Aspen School District.
The Board of Education informed him of its decision Thursday, Heald said.
“I had been encouraged (to apply for the opening) and I did,” he said. “And I was interviewed … and the short story is I was notified by the board they are not going to go forward with me.”
The BOE, with the help of headhunting firm Hazard Young Attea Associates of Chicago, initially attracted a field of 24 qualified applicants through a national search, said board President Susan Marolt.
The BOE selected eight candidates from that pool for interviews that were spread over Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The interviews were conducted privately in executive sessions, either in person or through video conference. All five BOE members attended and asked questions; search firm reps were there as well, though only in an observer’s role, Marolt said.
Names of those candidates remaining in contention for the job are not public, but they will be when the BOE determines the three or four finalists for the position. That is statutorily required, which is why Heald’s name became public as one of the finalists for the Archuleta School District superintendent position in December. Heald was not offered that position.
The Aspen board will announce the new superintendent at the earliest March 15 and the latest April 6. His or her first day on the job is scheduled for July 1.
The next round of interviews is slated for the third week of February. Five individuals remain in contention for the job, according to Marolt.
The BOE will name the finalists after the next round. Those finalists also will be invited to tour the Aspen campus and do meet-and-greets, Marolt said.
In the meantime, an advisory group involved in the hiring process is scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday and 11:30 a.m. Feb. 19 at the BOE’s meeting room in the district offices.
The group was formed last month and is open to such individuals as “students, staff, parents, committee members associated with other district/school groups, and community members-at-large,” according to the district’s website.
Marolt said the BOE is encouraging students to join the group; student participation could use a boost, she said.
Advisory group members will be able to participate in the candidate interviews, so they’ll need to learn the basics about the process — such as what not to ask, such as a candidate’s faith or age — Marolt said. They will not, however, be asked to make a recommendation for superintendent, nor will they be involved in the BOE’s final selection.
The BOE also has another source to lean on when tasked with making its selection — a leadership profile assessment conducted by HYA. The firm’s profile was based on multiple meetings and discussions it had with ASD stakeholders in December.
The BOE named Heald interim superintendent in June, following the resignation of Superintendent John Maloy. Heald had been second-in-command as assistant superintendent.
Since he took the role, Heald has helped spearhead work on crafting a strategic plan for the ASD.
“There are a lot of unknowns for me and I’m not sure what the next step is,” he said. “At least the way I see it, I signed on to create some conditions to help put the district in a good spot for the handoff, and that’s still my task moving forward.”
Friday was a snow day, but Heald said he visited the campus around 7:30 in the morning to make sure no children were dropped off by parents who didn’t know the schools had been closed. That’s something that has happened in the past, but not Friday, he said.
Heald recently was recognized with the Helen K. Klanderud Exemplary Service Award, named after the former Aspen mayor.
The city of Aspen has taken over the duties of producing the Fourth of July celebration in town and has an entire day planned to celebrate America’s birthday.
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