Adams 14 reviews candidates for new outside manager

Adams School District 14 is seeking a new external lead, but has released few details or the names of the finalists, despite interviews scheduled for Monday.

The process contrasts with how the process worked when the district last hired an outside manager in 2019.

The district, north of Denver, faces a hearing in mid-April when the Colorado State Board of Education must decide on a new improvement plan to redress years of low academic achievement in the district. An outside panel recommended closing at least the high school and possibly revamping the rest of the district.

District officials, led by the superintendent hired last year, are working on their own improvement plan to present to the state as an alternative to school closings.

The internal plan would create at least one community school – a model that would analyze the needs of families and provide resources such as a pantry, a health clinic or classes for adults.

The proposal will also include working with an external manager, but with a new authority structure.

Proposals from those interested in external management work were due in the district on Wednesday afternoon. The district declined to release those proposals to the public or respond to Chalkbeat’s questions about the process, including the number of bands that applied.

The district’s RFP, which has been shared, sets a tight schedule. Three finalists will be chosen on Friday, two days after the application deadline, and those finalists will have on-site interviews on Monday.

No information about the search, which began in February, about the committee that will conduct the interviews, or about Monday’s interviews, is on the district’s website as of Friday afternoon.

In 2019, when the final leader was selected, Adams 14 created a community engagement process in which, over the course of a month, dozens of parents and community members vetted the nine candidates for the position and makes recommendations.

In the end, the State Board rejected the community’s first choice, Neighboring Mapleton Public Schools, prompting the local school board to vote on a second choice, MGT Consulting, despite State Board concerns about this runner-up. . For the first two years, state education officials said MGT’s work was mostly on track, but this school year, the new superintendent immediately began to worry about the company work, kicking them out of the district twice and taking them to court, until the school board and MGT agreed to terminate the contract.

It is unclear whether the public will be allowed to participate in or observe Monday’s interviews. A district employee said the interviews were to be conducted by a committee made up of staff, parents and community members, but did not know how this group was selected. The school board was to attend just to watch.

The school board has a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday, and an agenda posted early Friday lists a resolution titled “External Management Partner for Adams 14.” This meeting notice and agenda were deleted on Friday afternoon.

Superintendent Karla Loria maintained she was open to working with a manager, although she disagreed with the former outside manager. But Loria wants to retain her authority over such a consultant.

In the previous arrangement, the State Board of Education directed the district to give the external management company authority to review and recommend policy changes, make curriculum changes, and recommend board personnel changes, among other responsibilities.

The Council of State drafted the ordinance with these details because the members felt that the district leadership at the time would not easily relinquish its authority.

This time, the district’s RFP says the governing partner will “support the efforts” of the district in these areas or “recommend to the superintendent” these changes, allowing Loria to retain her authority.

The RFP asks bidders to submit a sealed cost estimate which will only be opened if this manager is selected. The same process was used to select the last external manager.

This time, State Council members have already said they fear another outside manager may be enough to bring about the drastic improvements still needed in the district. The outside panel also noted concerns about the district’s leadership capabilities.

District leaders say they are up for the challenge of improving the district and note that the superintendent is new, as is the school board. One of five board members joined in November. And even though the superintendent was hired in May, leaders say she should not be tried as district manager until MGT leaves the district last month.

The State Board has limited options for directing improvement in an underperforming district, but can order closures, convert schools to charter schools, or initiate a district reorganization that may dissolve the district.

Read the district’s RFP here:

Yesenia Robles is a reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado, covering K-12 school districts and multilingual education. Contact Yesenia at [email protected].

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