Delta schools candidate backs out

The sole candidate for superintendent of Delta County Schools recently pulled out of the running for the position amidst controversy surrounding how he was offered the job.

Ed Longfield worked for the Delta County School District until last year, when he became superintendent of Manitou Springs School District. He was offered a contract to become Delta County’s superintendent and quit his job in Manitou Springs in order to return to Delta as early as the start of March.

Delta School Board President Bob Tweedell on Tuesday said Longfield recently told board members he would not take the job after all. Tweedell did not say what day Longfield delivered the information.

School board policy requires school board members to perform an “active search” for superintendent candidates and wait at least two weeks after announcing candidates to make a job offer. School board members announced Longfield as a candidate at a Feb. 25 meeting. Less than a week later, Longfield sent an e-mail to principals at Delta County schools informing them he was returning to the district.

The news of Longfield’s pullout came during a special meeting of the school board Tuesday afternoon. More than 40 people packed a small room in the district’s administration office to protest the lack of a search for multiple candidates to replace Superintendent Mike McMillan, whose contract is up July 1.

Former Delta school board member Gary Vickrey said at Tuesday’s meeting he hoped school board members would acknowledge a flaw in the job offer “to regain trust” from Delta residents. Vickrey was on the board when McMillan was selected superintendent and said it was a public process.

Cindy Sorensen, a parent in the school district, admonished the board, saying it did not follow its own policies.

“Are we teaching our children not to follow the rules?” she asked. “If we can’t follow the policies of the board, what’s the use of having a board?”

Former Delta school board member Bob Stechert said the search for a new superintendent need not be costly if the district gets assistance from the Colorado Association of School Boards. He said he would like the board to consider people who have or have not lived in Delta for the position.

“The board must give each qualified candidate full and fair consideration in a process that is as transparent and public as possible,” Stechert said.

Tweedell said he doesn’t know whether the board will perform a search to find a replacement for McMillan, who was set to retire this summer.

“It depends on whether he stays,” Tweedell said, referring to McMillan.


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