Physical education teacher Artie Weber teaches the basics of basketball inside the South Routt Elementary School gymnasium in November 2015.

Physical education teacher Artie Weber teaches the basics of basketball inside the South Routt Elementary School gymnasium in November 2015. |

3 current employees vying for South Routt superintendent job

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— Three current district employees are interested in becoming the next superintendent of the South Routt School District.

Board of Education President Jules Palyo said Wednesday that the board approved three finalists, including South Routt Elementary Principal Randy Foster, Soroco Middle/High School Principal George Purnell and district assessment coordinator Rim Watson.

If you go:

What: Community forum to meet superintendent finalists

When: 6 p.m. Monday, March 13

Where: District office, 305 S. Grant St., Oak Creek

Palyo said the board chose to pursue an internal job posting because members believed there were already qualified applicants working in the district.

The new superintendent will replace outgoing district leader Darci Mohr, who announced in February she would resign at the end of her contract June 30.

Palyo said hiring a current employee would mean the candidate would already be familiar with the district’s work on its academic strategic plan over the last year.

“It’s awesome to have candidates in-house,” Palyo said.

The finalists will participate in a community forum at 6 p.m. Monday at the district office, where each will have an opportunity to introduce himself to the community and answer questions.

On Wednesday, the board will conduct interviews with the finalists, each of which are relatively new to the district.

Randy Foster

Foster was hired as South Routt Elementary principal in 2015 and was previously a teacher with experience in special education.

Mohr has pointed to Foster as part of the reason for the elementary school’s impressive state ranking of “performance” for 2016, the highest ranking a Colorado school can receive. In 2014, the school was ranked as “improvement,” and in 2013, as “priority improvement.”

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George Purnell

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Rim Watson

George Purnell

A former principal and athletic director for a 140-student high school in Walsenburg, Colorado, Purnell was hired as Soroco Middle/High School principal in May 2016.

Purnell said he believed he’d be a good candidate to ensure that the work done by teachers this year on curriculum and grade level expectations would be valued and continued in the future.

“It’s a great opportunity, and this is a great community to work in,” he said.

Purnell did say he worried how staff might feel about having another new high school principal — what would be the fourth leader in as many years — in the role of superintendent if he was chosen.

Rim Watson

Watson was hired as district assessment coordinator in August 2016 and was formerly a middle school principal in Bailey, southwest of Denver.

Watson, along with other administrators, has worked on the district’s academic strategic plan. In a September presentation, he emphasized the need for teachers to adopt each other’s best practices and raise standards for students.

Watson was placed on paid administrative leave and ultimately dismissed from his previous position in Bailey for circumstances that never went public.

According to reports in The Flume newspaper, he was escorted from his office by sheriff’s deputies in May 2016, and two weeks later more than 100 community members attended a school board meeting in support of Watson. However, his contract was not renewed.

Watson said Wednesday the dismissal was unrelated to his job performance, which was highly praised by the community.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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