Douglas County School District’s school board names two finalists for superintendent

Douglas County’s school board named two finalists for superintendent Wednesday after spending two days screening a pool of 15 candidates.

The finalists — Erin Kane and Danny Winsor — have held leadership positions in the district. Kane, who was asked to apply for the job by board president Mike Peterson, served as interim superintendent of the district from 2016 to 2018 and leads American Academy, a charter school.

Winsor, a former teacher and principal, has worked for the district for more than a decade. He now serves as executive director of schools for the Douglas County School District, according to the district’s website.

Most of the school board’s meeting Wednesday was held in executive session as the seven directors screened and interviewed candidates. When the board did emerge from behind closed doors, it wasted little time debating the picks for finalists.

David Ray, one of the directors, tried to add a third finalist, Chris Page, but the motion failed 4-3.

Another board member, Elizabeth Hanson, asked that Winsor be named the sole finalist for the job, saying she believed he had the ability to unify the highly divided Board of Education. The motion also failed 4-3.

“(Winsor) has the ability to bridge the gap (between the board),” she said. “We genuinely have an opportunity to take action as leaders and to respond to what we are hearing from our community to come together.”

In total, 23 people applied for the superintendent job, but some people pulled their applications, Peterson said.

The board is searching for someone to lead the district, which serves more than 63,000 students, after firing the former superintendent, Corey Wise, almost a month ago.

The school board has set an aggressive timeline for hiring a new superintendent – an action it hopes will bring stability to the district after weeks of protests and allegations of open-meeting law violations – with plans of potentially offering the position to a finalist March 22.

The board was split about whether to fire Wise, but the four newly elected directors have said they did not feel supported by him and wanted to take the district in a new direction.

Wise, who worked for the district for more than two decades, served as interim superintendent for six months before he took the job full-time in April. His contract was terminated two years before it was set to expire, in 2024.

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