Principal candidates to 14

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Steamboat Springs School District officials have narrowed the field of candidates seeking its two open principalships to seven people per position.

On Monday, three days after the application deadline passed, the district's leadership team reviewed 35 applications and eliminated 21 candidates who had little or no administrative experience, Superintendent Donna Howell said Tuesday.

"The criteria were pretty simple," Howell said. "It wasn't a difficult process. With two schools of excellence, we're looking for some pretty strong experience."

The positions are open because of the retirements of Strawberry Park Elementary School Principal John DeVincentis and Steamboat Springs High School Principal Dave Schmid. Both men have led their schools to ratings of "excellent" -- the highest ranking-- on the state's annual School Accountability Reports.

The district began advertising the positions Dec. 1 and received 16 elementary school and 19 high school applications. With the candidate pool trimmed to seven people for each position, the district is preparing to move forward with in-person interviews beginning next week and concluding Feb. 10.

Interview teams composed of school staff members, parents, administrators and, in the case of the high school, students, will meet separately with each candidate. In addition to the interviews, candidates will visit district schools, take a special principal perceiver test, respond in writing to a job-related scenario and review and evaluate videotaped classroom lessons provided by several teachers.

"We'll get quite a bit of information from each," Howell said.

The interview teams will be asked to list the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate, after which Howell, possibly with advice from her leadership team, will select two or three finalists for each position.

The finalists then will be asked to return to Steamboat for a second round of interviews to be conducted by the district's administrative team. Schmid and DeVincentis won't participate in the interviews or any other aspects of the search process. The second round of interviews will include classroom walk-throughs and meetings with staff members and parents.

A stakeholder team made up of a parent, teacher, School Board member, Howell and a high school student will conduct site visits for each of the finalists.

"In the long run, it's a small expense to make sure you have the right person," Howell said of the site visits. "These positions are too important to not do everything you can to make sure you select the right person and the right match for each school."

Site visits tentatively are scheduled for the end of February and beginning of March.

Howell, who will make the final hiring decisions, hopes to be able to offer job contracts to her top choices shortly after the site visits are completed. The School Board must approve the contracts offered to the top choices.

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