Sirko ready to make the most of her interim year at Re-1 | AspenTimes.com

Sirko ready to make the most of her interim year at Re-1

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO, Colorado

Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – There’s nothing “interim” about a year of learning opportunities for students, proclaims the new interim Roaring Fork School District Re-1 superintendent, Dr. Diana Sirko.

“Whether it’s third grade or fifth grade or high school, this is that kid’s only year at that level,” Sirko said Wednesday.

“Our job is to ensure every single child accomplishes what they are capable of accomplishing over the course of that year,” she said. “For me, it’s full-speed ahead and working hard for those kids.”

At the same time, Sirko said her job is also to help prepare the district for a permanent superintendent to take over for the 2013-14 school year.

The Re-1 school board, at a special meeting Wednesday, finalized an 11-month, $137,500 contract for Sirko. It will start Aug. 1 and continue through June 30.

Sirko was selected last week to take the interim appointment as superintendent for Re-1 public schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.

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She replaces Rob Stein, who had to resign after just a week on the job earlier this month to tend to family concerns. His wife was injured severely in a bicycle accident in June.

Stein had been hired in May after an extensive nationwide search to replace former Re-1 Superintendent Judy Haptonstall, who was dismissed by the school board earlier this year. Haptonstall remained in the position through the just-completed school year. She was superintendent for five years.

Sirko served as superintendent of Aspen public schools from 2003 to 2010. She spent the past two years as a deputy commissioner with the Colorado Department of Education.

She officially retired at the end of June, culminating an education career that spanned 38 years, including 13 years as a classroom teacher and 25 years as an administrator.

Sirko, who is 59, said the interim position with Re-1 will allow her to be more directly involved with schools, teachers and students. That’s something she said she had missed.

“I’ve already seen examples of some great work by people in this district,” she said. “The district has had positive growth in test scores and gains in student achievement.”

Even though she does not officially start until Aug. 1, Sirko was already busy Wednesday visiting the summer school program at Basalt Elementary School and lining up appointments with district administrators, school board members and community members.

“My job now is to get to know people and talk to them about what they see as the issues,” she said. “From that, we will work together to address any concerns and build on the strengths that people have identified.”

Sirko also plans to begin posting the open assistant superintendent position for Re-1 following the recent resignation of former assistant superintendent Brad Ray, who took the assistant superintendent’s position with Garfield School District Re-2.

“I have had that discussion with the board, and we believe we do need that position,” Sirko said. “Hopefully we will get a strong field of candidates and can fill the position soon.”

Sirko began as an elementary school teacher in Gunnison in the late 1970s after earning her teaching certification and graduating from the University of Northern Colorado in 1975.

She met her husband, Mike, while they were both teaching in Montrose. Teaching stints later took them to Hotchkiss and eventually the Colorado Springs area.

Her administrative experience includes an elementary principal position in Castle Rock, and serving as deputy superintendent for instruction with the Colorado Springs School District 11 from 2001-2003 before moving to Aspen.

Sirko went on to earn her master’s degree in education from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in 1985, and a Ph.D. in educational leadership and innovation from CU-Denver in 1999.

Sirko, who lives with her husband in the Willits area of Basalt, also has deep ties to the Roaring Fork Valley, and particularly Glenwood Springs.

Her late grandmother, Evangeline Hinman, was born and raised in Glenwood Springs, and Sirko’s great-grandfather and grandfather helped build the first paved road through Glenwood Canyon.

The Sirko’s three grown children, Kristen, Nick and Erin, attended schools in Colorado Springs, but have since all relocated to the Basalt area. The Sirkos also now have three preschool-aged granddaughters. Mike Sirko, although retired from teaching, is still the head football coach at Aspen High School.

jstroud@postindependent.com