Mancos Secondary School has a new principal starting next year.
John Marchino joins the Mancos team from Dolores School District RE-4A, where he was serving as athletic director. His selection was approved unanimously at a Mancos school board meeting April 29.
The job post opened mid-November, when former Mancos secondary Principal Adam Priestley stepped down, citing “personal reasons” for his departure in his resignation letter.
Priestley had joined the district in 2009, and left at the end of 2018 with a mixed record: He was lauded for his efforts on pushing project-based learning in school curriculum, but he faced disciplinary action for “dishonesty” regarding a relationship he had with another staff member.
The position has since been somewhat shared by lead teachers, Superintendent Brian Hanson, and Dean of Students Heath Showalter.
Hanson advertised the position in early March. He received nine applicants, and five “very strong” finalists, he said. Two of these finalists were on the school staff.
“In the end, Mr. Marchino was our top choice,” Hanson said.
Marchino was hired as dean of students and athletic director in RE-4A in July 2018. Before that, he was in charge of the health and wellness program in Durango School District 9-R, served as principal of Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary School for six years, and was principal at a K-8 school in Delta, a small town 34 miles southwest of Grand Junction.
At the Monday night meeting, board member Tim Hunter said that some constituents had expressed concerns about someone from Dolores coming in to assume the job.
“There are some societal and some emotional and some regional issues with having someone come in from Dolores,” Hunter said. “And I just wanted to make that public because that’s been brought to me a bunch.”
But others said that it was just intertown rivalries.
Board President Blake Mitchell said he had spoken to a Dolores teacher and board member. “They both told me that we would be crazy not to hire this man,” he said.
Hanson added that he felt Dolores schools had struggled in previous years but were now on an upward path, and that Marchino and interim Superintendent Phil Kasper had been a part of that.
He also highlighted three decades of knowing Marchino.
“I spent more time doing background checks on John than I have on anybody else,” Hanson said. “Because I have 30 years of contacts, that have 30 years of contacts.”
The vote to approve Marchino’s hire was unanimous.