Super school hire likely

School Board plans to approve superintendent contract for Shalee Cunningham

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Agenda highlights

6:35 p.m.: Spotlight on success with Steamboat Springs High School speech team

7 p.m.: Public and staff comments

7:45 p.m.: Approval of superintendent contract

8:20 p.m.: Board member comments and update

9:30 p.m.: Adjourn

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs School Board meeting

When: 6:30 p.m. today (executive session at 5:30 p.m.)

Where: Citizens' Meeting Room in Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

— By the end of the day, the Steamboat Springs School District could officially have a new superintendent.

The Steamboat Springs School Board plans to approve a contract for Dr. Shalee Cunningham of Napa, Calif., at its meeting tonight. Cunningham has signed the contract, School Board President Robin Crossan said. The board's public vote and approval would cement the deal.

"I'm not anticipating any problems," Crossan said Sunday. "But until we get there tomorrow night, I don't know."

If the contract is approved, Cunningham will replace interim Superintendent Sandra Smyser, who will take the top slot in the Eagle County district July 1. Cunningham's contract would begin July 1.

Crossan said the superintendent hunt and hiring process has gone smoothly, particularly for a board that is going through it for the first time.

"We slowed it down a little bit," she said. "We were very thoughtful in what we did, simply because we've never done it before."

When Crossan, Lisa Brown and Laura Anderson were elected to the board in November, Smyser already had been chosen as interim superintendent. Crossan said it was helpful that board Vice President Denise Connelly and board member John DeVincentis had the experience of helping select Smyser.

But that was an abbreviated version of the permanent hire process, Connelly said. She said she was happy with the board's first full superintendent hiring effort.

"It has gone very smoothly, and I think that we were really able to tackle some tough issues in the contract and work very well together," Connelly said. Cunningham "voiced her concerns. We voiced our concerns. I think we did a good job of getting the best contract for the district and the new superintendent."

Having to debate finalists' merits publicly was a challenge, Connelly said.

"One problem, a delicate area was having everything done in the public eye. : I think that sometimes it's hard to get your point across without sounding negative toward the candidates."

Details of the contract will be made public after it is officially approved, Crossan said. She and Connelly said that they were happy to have had solid candidates and that Cunningham is a good choice.

"I think she'll be a good fit with what we need and with our community," Connelly said. "And we did have that whole list of qualities in the brochure that we were asking for. I kept going back to some of those as far as working with different groups and coming to a consensus, being able to lead but still using a lot of community expertise. : I think having that balance is real important in a leader."

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