Keeping ‘advisory’ role

Dan McMinimee out as Jeffco superintendent, ending awkward period after board vote to search for replacement

PHOTO: Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post
JeffCo Public Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee, at his office, in 2014 during his second week on the job.

Dan McMinimee has stepped down as superintendent of Jeffco Public Schools effective immediately, but will take an advisory role through the end of his contract, the district announced Thursday.

The announcement portrayed the move as a mutual decision of McMinimee and the school board, which voted nearly two months ago to launch a search for a new superintendent while allowing McMinimee to finish out his contract.

“The Board thanks Dan McMinimee for his service and commitment to Jeffco Public Schools and wishes him the best in his future endeavors,” board president Ron Mitchell said in the released statement.

Mitchell spoke to Chalkbeat later calling the change “an agreement that’s largely a role redefinition.”

Mitchell said that after the board’s vote to start a search for a new superintendent, the parties “felt pretty good,” but then, “I think that became somewhat uncomfortable for Dan.”

McMinimee said the new agreement came from “mutual conversations.”

“It became apparent there are distractions in terms of what my focus is moving forward,” McMinimee said. “With some of the pressures, I have trying to secure another position.”

But he said the change should be a benefit for him and for the 86,000-student district, the second largest in Colorado.

“Making sure the day-to-day operations are being taken care of is everyone’s priority,” McMinimee said. “It just felt like this was a great opportunity.”

McMinimee’s precise role in Jeffco until his contract ends June 30 is unclear. The release said McMinimee would serve in an “advisory capacity” and will “assist as needed in the transition.”

McMinimee said Thursday that he and Mitchell will work out the details of the “special projects” he will work on during the next few months.

Terry Elliott, Jeffco’s chief school effectiveness officer, will serve as interim superintendent.

But he won’t stick around past June, either. Earlier Thursday, the School District 27J in Brighton announced Elliott would be principal of the district’s new high school. The role starts July 1.

McMinimee was hired in the summer of 2014 by a split board. A year later, the three members who approved McMinimee’s hire were recalled.

The newer Jeffco school board voted in January to start the search for a new superintendent, and a firm just completed public meetings to get input about what qualities they should look for in candidates. The job is being advertised with a base salary of $300,000.

When the board voted to launch the search for a new superintendent, board members said they didn’t have specific problems or concerns with McMinimee’s performance but wanted to see if they might find a person who could be better for the job.

According to McMinimee’s contract, if he is released before his contract expires at the end of June, he is to receive a year’s worth of his base salary, which is $220,000. If McMinimee chose to break the contract to leave on his own, the district could charge him for damages.

The school board held a closed session Feb. 16 to seek legal advice about the superintendent’s contract, according to the district. No details of that meeting were made public.

It’s not immediately clear what agreement the board reached with McMinimee. The district’s announcement said the board will vote on a new agreement at their March 9 board meeting. The agreement is not to be released before it is signed and finalized, according to McMinimee and Mitchell.

principal pipeline

Here are 26 assistant principals being groomed to lead Tennessee schools

Assistant principals engage with Gov. Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Candice McQueen as part of the Governor's Academy for School Leadership.

Twenty-six assistant principals will participate in a one-year fellowship program as part of Tennessee’s drive to cultivate school leaders for the future.

Gov. Bill Haslam on Friday announced educators chosen for his 2018 Governor’s Academy for School Leadership, as well as the 26 principals who will mentor them.

The initiative is in response to the growing body of research showing the significance of principals in developing effective teachers — and therefore improving student outcomes.

“You can walk into a school and tell right away if there is a great principal who is leading effectively,” Haslam said in his announcement. “Great principals attract and keep great teachers, and great teachers lead to student success.”

This will be the third class of the Governor’s Academy, which launched in 2016 as a partnership of the state, local school districts, and Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development.

Fellows were nominated by their superintendents and selected by the partnership through an application and interview process.

Each fellow is paired with an experienced principal mentor, must attend monthly group training sessions and a week-long summer institute at Vanderbilt, and intern three days a month at his or her mentor’s school. Upon completion, they are expected to pursue placement as a school principal in their districts or regions. (At least 18 have been promoted so far.)

Chosen for the 2018 academy are:

Merissa Baldwin Aspire Hanley Elementary School Achievement School District
Jeni Irwin Anderson County High School Anderson County
Heather Byrd Eagleton Elementary School Blount County
Melissa Brock H Y Livesay Middle School Claiborne County
Milton Nettles Cumberland Elementary School Davidson County
Noelle Taylor West End Middle School Davidson County
Andrea Beaubien Dickson Elementary School Dickson County
Josh Rogers Dyersburg Intermediate School Dyersburg
Noelle Smith Greeneville High School Greeneville
Travis Miller Orchard Knob Middle School Hamilton County
Heather Harris Middleton Middle-High School Hardeman County
Jacob Bellissimo Jefferson Middle School Jefferson County
Beth Cohen Dobyns-Bennett High School Kingsport
Jamey Romeg Halls Elementary School Knox County
Sharonda Rose Lakeland Elementary School Lakeland
Vanessa Spoon Ripley Middle School Lauderdale County
Rachel Wasserman Loudon Elementary School Loudon County
Amanda Brabham Thelma Barker Elementary School Madison County
Chris Winningham Algood Middle School Putnam County
Larry Staggs Springfield High School Robertson County
Chris George Christiana Middle School Rutherford County
Clint Dowda Bluff City Elementary School Sullivan County
Stephen Walker Rucker Stewart Middle School Sumner County
Latoya Avery Drummonds Elementary School Tipton County
Jordan Hughes Boones Creek Elementary School Washington County
Joshua Johnston Mt. Juliet High School Wilson County

Here are this year’s principal mentors:

Monique Cincore Aspire East Academy Achievement School District
Andrea Russell Central office Anderson County
April Herron Middlesettlements Elementary School Blount County
Suzanne Anders Tazewell-New Tazewell Primary School Claiborne County
Renita Perkins Stratton Elementary School Davidson County
Kevin Armstrong Dupont-Hadley Middle School Davidson County
Malissa Johnson Charlotte Elementary School Dickson County
Cal Johnson Dyersburg Middle School Dyersburg
Pat Donaldson Central office Greeneville
Chrissy Easterly Ooltewah Middle School Hamilton County
Chris Cranford Toone Elementary School Hardeman County
Scott Walker Jefferson County High School Jefferson County
Holly Flora John Sevier Middle School Kingsport
Keith Cotrell Cedar Bluff Elementary School Knox County
Kasandra Berry Bon Lin Elementary School Lakeland
Susan Farris Central office Lauderdale County
Christie Amburn Fort Loudoun Middle School Loudon County
Melinda Harris Community Montessori School Madison County
Trey Upchurch Prescott South Middle School Putnam County
Katie Osborne Greenbrier High School Robertson County
Kim Stoecker Siegel Middle School Rutherford County
Robin McClellan Central office Sullivan County
Brian Smith Station Camp Middle School Sumner County
Brooke Shipley Brighton Elementary School Tipton County
Kelley Harrell Ridgeview Elementary School Washington County
Travis Mayfield Wilson Central High School Wilson County


Movers and shakers

Denver Scholarship Foundation hires new CEO

PHOTO: Seth McConnell, The Denver Post

The Denver Scholarship Foundation has named a new CEO: Lorii Rabinowitz, who currently heads a startup venture in the city that counts among its goals improving high school graduation rates by engaging at-risk students in arts education.

The nonprofit Denver Scholarship Foundation provides needs-based college scholarships to Denver Public Schools graduates. Over the past 11 years, it’s given $36 million to more than 6,300 low-income graduates. It also runs “Future Centers” for 21 Denver high schools, where advisers help students apply to college and figure out how to pay for it.

Former CEO Nate Easley left the organization to serve as the inaugural leader of a new education-focused philanthropic collaborative called Blue School Partners.

Rabinowitz previously worked at Denver-based consulting firm Rebound Solutions and for 9News, where she helped develop strategic partnerships and new initiatives. Her most recent position was as executive director for the startup Denver Center for Arts and Technology, which is projected to open to the public in 2018, according to its website.

“I am grateful for this amazing opportunity to lead an organization I have long admired,” Rabinowitz said in a statement. “The Denver Scholarship Foundation has engineered tremendous gains in access to education and sustainable careers for thousands of Denver’s students. It will be my great honor to work alongside the board, professional staff, and community partners to build on this important legacy for Denver’s future.”

Rabinowitz is scheduled to start as CEO on Dec. 1.