Colorado

Adams 12 names supt. finalists

Six finalists for superintendent of the Adams 12 Five Star Schools have been announced by the school board after a search managed by a consultant and contacts with more than 170 potential candidates.

All the finalists have administrative experience in school districts, but only three have traditional up-from-the-teaching-ranks resumes. Three candidates are internal or previously worked for the district.

District Superintendent Mike Paskewicz resigned in August after six years to take a superintendent job in his home state of Michigan.

The finalists to succeed him are:

  • Rod L. Blunck, superintendent of the Brighton Schools and former superintendent in Elizabeth and Julesburg. Earlier in his career he was an assistant superintendent in Adams 12 and a special education teacher in Denver.
  • Christopher E. Gdowski, current general counsel for the district and formerly a lawyer in private practice.
  • James Q. Hammond, superintendent in Davis, Calif., and formerly a superintendent in Washington State. He started his career as a teacher.
  • Peg M. Kastberg, community superintendent for the Jefferson County Schools and a former administrator and teacher in Summit County.
  • Joseph J. Redden, an education consultant from Georgia who formerly was superintendent in Cobb County, a suburban Atlanta district with more than 100,000 students. He’s a retired Air Force lieutenant general and is a graduate of the Air Force Academy.
  • Robert K. Webber, the Adams 12 assistant superintendent for business services.

The board plans to make a decision by Oct. 15 – Paskewicz’ last day – and the candidates will interview Oct 7 and 8.

They will be available for community interviews on those evenings, starting at 6:15 p.m. at the district Educational Support Center, 1500 E. 128th Ave. in Thornton.

Each candidate will be available for an hour, with Webber, Hammond and Blunck on Oct. 7 and Gdowski, Kastberg and Redden on Oct. 8.

Adams 12 is Colorado’s fifth largest school district with about 40,000 students from Broomfield, Federal Heights, Northglenn, Thornton and Westminster. Enrollment has grown more than 10 percent since 2004.

According to an EdNews analysis of 2009 CSAP results for Adams 12, the district’s reading growth has remained at the 52 percentile for three years; writing has been stable at the 51st and math growth went from the 53rd percentile in 2007 to the 50th in 2008 and the 55th this year.

Minority and non-minority students are both at the 52nd percentile in reading, the 51st in writing and the 55th in math. The ACT average composite score rose to 18.91 in 2009 from 18.7 in 2208. The district enrollment is 39.8 percent minority and 29.7 percent free and reduced lunch.

Last year district voters narrowly approved a $9.9 million mill levy override but defeated an $80 million bond issue. None of the district board seats on the ballot this year are contested.

Elsewhere in the metro area, the Douglas County board is preparing a superintendent search to replace Jim Christensen, who resigned in August, effective Thursday. There is a contentious campaign this fall for board seats in the district.

The Pueblo City school board earlier this month promoted Assistant Superintendent Kathy West to the top job.

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What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

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School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.


For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.


Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.