The State Board of Education on Wednesday began the long process of finding a successor to education Commissioner Dwight Jones.
During the longest board meeting in recent months, members also approved the first public release of the state’s new school ranking system (see this in-depth Education News Colorado story) and heard some fervent testimony in favor of something that students might not be so wild about – expansion of state tests.
Jones, who’s headed to Las Vegas to become superintendent of the 310,000-student Clark County Schools in Nevada, made that official Wednesday, telling the board, “It’s about time I submitted a formal letter of resignation. … I don’t think I can hold it off any longer.”
Board Chair Bob Schaffer, R-4th District, said the occasion was “pretty sobering,” telling Jones, “Your impression on Colorado is permanent.”
“All right, what’s next?” Schaffer asked.
Jones outlined his transition plans, saying he’ll work at the department until Dec. 13 and start in Nevada two days later. He then recommended that the board name Robert Hammond as interim superintendent.
“Do you want to do it?” Schaffer, smiling, asked Hammond, who allowed that he did. “I hope I can provide the stability you need.” The board unanimously approved the appointment.
Hammond is deputy commissioner in charge of operations and administration. He joined the department in March 2008 after serving as chief operations officer for the Boulder Valley School District. Hammond is married to Ranelle Lang, superintendent of Greeley schools.
Later, toward the end of the meeting, the board turned to the process for finding a permanent commissioner.
Members informally agreed to a schedule that calls for selecting a search consultant in late December and meeting with the winning firm in mid-January, at the same meeting when two new members elected Tuesday, Republicans Paul Lundeen of the 5th District and Debora Scheffel of the 6th District, take office.
That likely means a new commissioner won’t be selected until next spring.
Schaffer said that he doesn’t think having the current board select the search firm “lim