Superintendent Tuesday has finalists for Aspen School District opening putting on their best faces |

Superintendent Tuesday has finalists for Aspen School District opening putting on their best faces

The crowd gathered in the assembly room at Aspen High School on Tuesday listens to one of the superintendent finalists. The Board of Education hopes to name a superintendent before spring break, which begins March 23.
Rick Carroll/The Aspen Times

The four finalists for the superintendent opening at the Aspen School District went on the charm offensive Monday and Tuesday in an effort to win over teachers, staff, parents and students, and ultimately the Board of Education.

The candidates made their pitches to smaller groups during a round-robin-style forum Monday at Aspen Middle School. On Tuesday, each finalist gave individual presentations at the high school seminar room, where they were grilled by members of the recently formed advisory group, while BOE members took in what amounted to roughly eight hours of discussion.

“We worked hard to find four people … so I hope that came through today,” BOE member Jonathan Nickell told the audience near the conclusion of Tuesday’s session. “Whatever the final decision is, we’re looking for you guys to be on board and support that decision.”

The candidates are David Baugh, superintendent of Centennial School District in Conshochoken, Pennsylvania; Aurora resident Tammy Clementi, who is national director of planning and analytics for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Aspen High School Principal Tharyn Mulberry; and Ann Schultz, executive director of Cherry Creek Academy in Englewood.

All four offered details about their background and interest in the district’s top-level job, as well as their philosophies and approaches toward academics, managing employees and improving the school district (a deeper look at their positions will be reported in the Sunday edition of The Aspen Times).

The BOE will ultimately decide on the district’s next superintendent, but they have said they will weigh the input of the advisory group, whose members won’t make recommendations on whom to hire.

However, those members — a collection of teachers, parents, students and community stakeholders — brought forth what they considered pros and cons for each candidate following each finalist’s presentation Tuesday. They also were asked to email the BOE and search firm with follow-up questions for the superintendent hopefuls, who took campus tours as well this week and met individually with teachers, administrators and other school staff.

On Wednesday, the BOE will meet privately in executive session with members of Hazard Young Attea Associates, the Chicago-based search firm which has participated in the interview process and helped facilitate this week’s public discussions. They will examine letters of recommendation for each candidate and discuss other issues related to the search.

The board is aiming to announce the new superintendent before spring break, which begins March 23. The future superintendent’s first day on the job is scheduled for July 1.

Judging from the overall feedback from advisory board members, all four candidates have generated optimism about the district’s future.

“We have a huge decision, but it’s really going to be great,” said BOE President Susan Marolt.

Tom Heald is the interim superintendent. He previously served under Superintendent John Maloy, who retired last year.