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Superintendent finalist faces tough questions in first appearance

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By Daniel Laverty

Jeffco superintendent finalist Daniel McMinimee was greeted by a skeptical crowd with difficult questions at an informal meeting Thursday night.

Nearly 75 Jeffco community members packed the Wheat Ridge High School library to hear about McMinimee’s plans for leading their school district.

McMinimee, the assistant superintendent for secondary education in Douglas County, was swarmed by audience members after he invited them to approach and ask questions.

Attendees wanted to know McMinimee’s opinions on charter schools, free full-day kindergarten, teacher compensation, the teachers union and vouchers.

“I reminded (McMinimee) that Jeffco is not failing,” said Jeffco teacher Janet Riehle.

After 30 minutes of informal question and answer, McMinimee addressed the entire room after attendees complained about not being able to hear McMinimee’s responses to individual questioners.

Because of his unfamiliarity with Jeffco, the superintendent finalist wasn’t able to answer many questions, but said he was looking forward to learning about the specifics of the district.

“I’m looking forward to continuing a lot of things Jeffco is doing,” McMinimee said. “My strengths are teamwork, listening and academic achievement.”

After a national search, the Jeffco school board voted 3-2 May 10 to make McMinimee its only finalist. Board members Ken Witt, John Newkirk and Julie Williams voted yes, while board members Jill Fellman and Lesley Dahlkemper voted no.

Under Colorado law, the school board must wait 14 days before hiring McMinimee.

It was his first public appearance since he was announced as the lone finalist for the Jeffco superintendent job.

A second public meeting with McMinimee is scheduled from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday at Carmody Middle School, 2050 S. Kipling St. in Lakewood.

“I can’t believe I was the person called on Saturday,” McMinimee said. “I wanted this job since it became available.”

He started Thursday’s meeting by giving his background and experience in education.

“I’ve taught everything from kindergarten to college kids,” he said.

If hired, McMinimee will replace Dr. Cindy Stevenson, who spent 12 years as district superintendent. Stevenson left the position at the end of February amid friction with the new conservative majority on the school board. Stevenson now holds a director position with the Colorado Association of School Executives.

Read the May 21 print edition for a more detailed version of this story.