Superintendent choice close

School officials interview three finalists for job Monday

— The Steamboat Springs School Board could hire an interim superintendent Wednesday.

Three finalists for the job interviewed Monday with the School Board, Steamboat Springs School District officials and community members.

"We are meeting Wednesday morning to discuss how everybody felt with the interviews and move forward, hopefully," School Board President Denise Connelly said Monday. "You never know if your first choice actually accepts the position, so I can't say when someone may accept. Sometimes when we interview for a teacher position the first two people don't take it once they see what the housing prices are."

The three finalists interviewed Monday were Dr. Sandra Smyzer, a former superintendent of the Las Virgenes Unified School District in California; William Kennedy, a former superintendent in Norwich and Postdam, N.Y.; and Dr. William Harner, currently the regional superintendent for the school district of Philadelphia.

Jerry Buelter, assistant principal at Steamboat Springs Middle School, was one of 10 people including principals and assistant principals, school district directors, teachers, support staff and community members who joined a committee to help with the interim superintendent search.

"I thought they were all good candidates. They all have expertise in different areas and they all come at the position from three different backgrounds," Buelter said of the finalists. "I thought there were qualities I saw in all of them that would benefit the district, but it's a matter of finding a fit. It's an interim job, and that has something to do with why someone is selected."

Buelter added that the candidates were all aware of the contentious relationship between Howell and the School Board.

"They all did their homework and they all knew that there was a divisiveness in the district and how can they help in building trust, team work and collaboration that can help gain back the community a little bit," he said. "My concerns were more of what a principal may have, such as how they would work with (the Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services) and special populations."

Buelter said all three candidates indicated they would be open to remaining as superintendent after the interim period.

"They all had reasons for seeking an interim job," he said. "They were all legitimate for doing it. One wanted to be closer to family, one wanted to get out of California and one has kind of re-energized after retirement and wants back in."

The School Board voted, 4-0, on Aug. 10 to buy out the remaining two years of former superintendent Donna Howell's contract, paying Howell $270,000 in exchange for her immediate resignation.

The interim superintendent will lead the school district until a permanent hire is made, possibly in spring 2008.

- To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208 or e-mail

Community comments

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(Anonymous) ElBorracho says...

Harner would be going from bad to worse! He's only been in Philly since 2006, and just from a Google search it looks like he's been shopping for a different job since just about the moment he got here. A deal fell through for him to get the top job in the Toledo (OH) school district. Ckeck out what this Toledo blogger had to say about him in April:

The Toledo School Board was unable to negotiate a contract with new superintendent Dr. William Harner. The new sticking issues were these: He wanted to live in Ottawa Hills rather than Toledo:and, he wanted his daughter to attend Maumee Valley Country Day school:at tax payer expense. I'm glad the negotiations have failed and we are seeking a new SI. I can almost understand why Harner wants to live in Ottawa Hills as opposed to Toledo:yet, it does look kind of weird for the Toledo Public School superintendent to live outside of Toledo. Also:how much audacity do you have to have to expect the overtaxed Toledo public to pay for your daughter to attend the $13,000 + a year uppity up rich kid school. Do we really want a SI who has such a low opinion of Toledo Public Schools:.that he won't even send his own kid there? And anyway:why should my dollars be used to send your bratty kid to a private school when I can use the money to send my own kid to one?

To see the whole thing, go to

Posted 11 September 2007, 2:58 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) portagetheyampa says...

Well, If they hire this fella, he'll want the School District to buy him a home on the golf course and to pay for his daughter to attend Whiteman Primary!!

I wonder how he got this far in the process. Did the interview team check the internet?

Posted 11 September 2007, 3:18 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) snowysteamboat says...

Its Smyser, not Smyzer.

She was a finalist for the Boulder Valley School District this past spring but was not chosen.

She was at her previous job in California for two years.

Posted 11 September 2007, 3:25 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) SteamboatJoe says...

How did he get this far? As if there pool were full......

Posted 11 September 2007, 5:09 p.m. Suggest removal

(Matthew Stoddard) kielbasa says...


Posted 14 September 2007, 10:20 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) mom says...

PS give me a break

Posted 14 September 2007, 8:17 p.m. Suggest removal

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