Nevada Association of School Boards executive director Dr. Debb Oliver called Carson City School District’s original response of 10 applicants for its superintendent’s position a “caliber” group from which to choose during Tuesday’s special meeting.
NASB’s superintendent search team’s task was to whittle down the pool of 10 to four recommended candidates for the school board. Oliver reported to the board members they honed in on three external candidates and one current employee they felt the members should focus on for their search.
But with much debate, the trustees ultimately decided they wanted to include all three internal candidates given their level of experience and commitment to the district.
The board made a motion Tuesday night to approve six candidates for its superintendent position to be interviewed Jan. 25 and 26 and scheduled to meet with them via Zoom. The board will meet physically in the Carson City Community Center’s Bob Boldrick theater, and it gave consensus to NASB to narrow its interview questions for the candidates.
The entire discussion, a three-pronged item to establish the criteria for hiring the district’s next leader, included a number of protocols the board reviewed with Oliver about suggested questions, rating forms, response summaries and evaluating the actual candidates.
Oliver, who called into the meeting virtually, told the board NASB had selected among its top candidates for the board:
- Dr. Miranda Kogon, associate chief of student equity and opportunity for Denver Public Schools in Denver, Colo. In her current role, Kogon provides support for departments and programs for 209 schools and more than 93,000 students in special education, Gifted and Talented Education, federal programs, special services, operations and other needs and functions. She previously served as director and manager of special education for DC Public Schools, special education adjunct professor at George Mason University and behavior specialist for ages 6 to 22 at Fairfax County Public Schools, among other roles.
- Dr. John Goldhardt, superintendent for Manchester School District in Manchester, NH, was another selection. Manchester is a district of 13,000 students, 21 schools, 2,400 employees and operates with a $205 million budget and consists of a 48% minority enrollment. His previous employment includes serving as executive director of school leadership and performance for the Salt Lake City School District in Utah and in principal and assistant principal roles, also in Utah.
- Dr. Verenice Gutierrez, director of educational equity and access for Salt Lake City School District, Salt Lake City, Utah. In this role since 2018, Gutierrez has established an equity taskforce in her school district and created professional development opportunities for principals to help make their schools more inclusive. She previously served as an academic advisor at the LEEP Dual Language Academics of Texas in San Antonio and as a second bilingual coordinator in the San Antonio Independent School District in which she worked on English as a Second Language instructional materials and provided resources to support staff to achieve program goals.
- Carson City School District’s director of fiscal services and chief financial officer Andrew Feuling. Feuling, in his role with CCSD since 2014, has overseen Carson’s $160 million budget and is responsible for the accounting, payroll, auditing, debt management, labor negotiations and related services in the district’s departments, including capital projects and nutrition services. He is a member of the Nevada Commission on School Funding and leads in other areas regarding the district’s strategic plan. Previously from Wisconsin, he served as a school business specialist in Robert W. Baird, Milwaukee and business manager and CFO for the Salem School District in Salem, as well as an economics and history teacher at East Troy High School in East Troy, Wis.
The school board generally agreed with NASB’s suggestions but expressed an interest in adding its two other internal candidates, associate superintendent of educational services Tasha Fuson and Fremont Elementary School Principal Dr. Jennifer Ward-DeJoseph, to its interview process, saying their level of experience and commitment to the school district warranted consideration.
Fuson has worked with the Carson City School District since 2014, previously serving as Carson High School’s principal before her promotion to associate superintendent of educational services in 2019 in which she has helped to increase the school’s graduation rate and improved community engagement with the district’s strategic plan. Before serving in Carson City, she worked in the Washoe County School District as Spanish Springs High School principal, Reno High School assistant principal and served as a special education teacher and administrator in the Clark County School District in the 1990s and 2000s.
Ward-DeJoseph became principal of Fremont Elementary School in July 17, helping to lead the school as the lowest scoring site within the district to nearly a four-star school according to the Nevada School Performance Framework in two years. From 2013 to 2017, she was Carson Middle School’s assistant principal, where she reorganized the school’s special education department and led professional learning and data analysis in the school’s Measures of Academic Proficiency, among other academic assessments. She also has been an implementation specialist at Eagle Valley Middle School and an implementation specialist and fourth-grade and fifth-grade teacher at Empire Elementary School.
Trustees also spent time selecting its interview questions, a process that proved difficult in the beginning. Board members were asked to narrow down specific questions asking candidates about best practices and knowledge in professional growth or ethics and integrity; their vision, mission and goals for the district; the board and superintendent’s relationship; management of an organizational system; teaching and learning; collaboration with families and community; and the education system. Board president Richard Varner and Trustee Joe Cacioppo contributed their own questions, and the board reviewed and discussed the language and concepts for interview purposes.
Overall, the board discussed the importance of finding a balance of experience candidates would offer as educators and administrators.
“You’re not going to understand the classroom if you haven’t taught in the field,” Trustee Joe Cacioppo said.
Oliver said it’s key to give everyone a chance to tell their own stories about their accomplishments and perspectives in education, with the trustees agreeing.
Interviewees will have about 75 to 90 minutes on Tuesday or Wednesday to speak with board members to answer up to 12 questions as time allows. Board members also asked as part of the process to seek writing samples from each applicant.
Public comment from community members asked the board about community input after the search.
Resident Bepsy Strasburg noted Nevada ranks near the bottom as a state and said the new hire should bring a great desire to reverse Carson City’s own standing. She also asked for an opportunity for the new board, once elected, to ratify the candidate.
“I think it’s important for the new superintendent, for as long as Mr. Richard Stokes as been with us, that we have a change agent,” Strasburg said. “Simply status quo is not going to do it for us.”
The motion eventually was amended to include an additional question from Cacioppo’s proposed list of questions and was passed unanimously 7-0.
Trustees will interview superintendent candidates Tuesday and Wednesday in the Bob Boldrick theater of the Carson City Community Center, 851 E. William St.
Andrew Feuling, 8 to 9:30 a.m.
Dr. John Goldhardt, 10 to 11:30 a.m.
Dr. Jennifer Ward-DeJoseph, 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Dr. Miranda Kogon, 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Tasha Fuson, 10 to 11:30 a.m.
Dr. Verenice Gutierrez, 1:30 to 3 p.m.