Steamboat principals picked

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The search is over to replace two of the Steamboat Springs School District's highly regarded principals.

Steamboat Springs High School Assistant Principal Mike Knezevich will replace Dave Schmid as the high school principal. Rifle Middle School Principal Mark MacHale will replace Strawberry Park Elementary School Principal John DeVincentis.

Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Donna Howell made the decision late Sunday, and the selections were announced to school employees Monday morning.

"It was a very difficult decision," Howell said. "It came down to making the selection based on the needs of the buildings and the strengths of the candidates. I believe we ended up with the best candidate for the position, the one who will meet the needs for the school."

Knezevich has been Schmid's assistant principal for the past six years. He was an assistant principal at Hinkley High School in Aurora before accepting the position in Steamboat.

Knezevich was excited about the announcement and said he looked forward to building on the work between Schmid and the high school staff.

"I was just really blown away by all the support given to me from the building, students, parents and community," he said. "That was pretty humbling and, at the same time, made clear to me the responsibility of this position. This really is a special position to take."

Knezevich was one of two finalists for the high school position selected in February after an extensive interview and screening process.

Knezevich said he would take over the position in the summer, but already is working with Schmid on principal duties.

Knezevich also said the district would get started on finding an assistant principal with the hopes of deciding on a replacement by spring break.

Fort Collins High School Assistant Principal Ann Simms was the other finalist. Simms taught English before taking the assistant principal position.

MacHale was a classroom and special education teacher before becoming the principal of Roy Moore Elementary in Silt. After seven years in that position, MacHale took over at Rifle Middle School. Both schools are part of the Garfield County School District.

MacHale, who has two young children, said he was attracted to the job because Steamboat is a great place to raise a family and has an excellent school district.

"In terms of what we want to accomplish, I want to get to know the kids, families and staff and together decide what changes, if any, we want to make at this time and build on the success that is already there," MacHale said.

Custer County Elementary School Principal Muriel deGanahl was the other finalist for the Strawberry Park position. DeGanahl, who has family ties to Routt County, was the principal at South Routt Elementary School in Yampa from 1996 to 2000.

Howell spent last week on site visits for three of the four finalists. The group visited the finalists' schools and met with the finalists' teachers, parents and students. Two Strawberry Park teachers and two parents went with Howell on visits to MacHale's and deGanahl's schools. Two high school staff members and students went with Howell to visit Simms' school.

"They were very informative and definitely involved in the final decision," Howell said about the visits.

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