Lori Haukeness will be the new superintendent for the Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 School District.
In a special meeting Wednesday, the Board of Education unanimously voted to seat Haukeness as superintendent, and she accepted the position, board president Jack Schuenemeyer announced Thursday in an email to district staff.
“We believe that working as a team, we can continue to move forward to meet the challenges that lie ahead and provide the highest quality education for our children,” Schuenemeyer wrote in the email. “We congratulate Lori and thank you for all you do.”
Haukeness has been involved with the district for 22 years. She previously served as principal of Mesa Elementary. During former superintendent Alex Carter’s administration, Haukeness was assistant superintendent for curriculum and public instruction. When Carter resigned in January, Haukeness assumed the role of interim superintendent.
Her appointment comes at a time when the school district is facing high-profile issues. Three elementary schools are involved with a University of Virginia turnaround program. The district is being pressured to find a solution for the retired high school on Seventh Street. And, like many districts around Colorado, Re-1 is dealing with financial challenges.
But at a meet-and-greet Monday, Haukeness said she’s up to the challenge.
“I feel that I’ve been instrumental in supporting our schools and teachers and would like to carry that forward,” Haukeness said.
As assistant superintendent, Haukeness said she worked with closely with Carter on administrative matters.
Recruiting and retaining teachers, addressing budget shortfalls and continuing with the University of Virginia partnership are priorities for her upcoming tenure, she said.
Haukeness said she would help develop school technology and advocate for alternative learning programs to give students more opportunities. She pointed to Southwest Health Systems as a model, saying the company has developed an excellent system for the area. She said the district could do that too.
“We can move forward with the district to develop community relations and make students competitive with others around the nation,” Haukeness said.
The Board of Education received 12 applications for the position before narrowing the search down to four finalists, Schuenemeyer said.
The finalists were Haukeness, Durango school district health and wellness director John Marchino, Wisconsin education service agency director Joe Price and Del Norte Superintendent Nathan Smith.
The four spoke at a meet-and-greet event Monday with members of the public.
Marchino is in charge of Durango District 9-R health and wellness program. He was principal of Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary for six years, leading that school to an improvement award from the governor’s office two years in a row, he said.He said he’d facilitate learning and collaboration between staff.
Price is head of a Cooperative Educational Service Agency in Wisconsin, that state’s equivalent of a BOCES organization. He previously served as a superintendent in Wisconsin for 12 years, he said.He said he’d focus on improving student achievement.
Smith has been the superintendent of Del Norte School District for five years. He also served previously as a principal and an athletic director.He said he’d focus on academic performance.
All four candidates said they felt that the Montezuma-Cortez district is on the brink of something great.