This urgent message goes out to the Colorado Springs School District 11 board members, as they move toward hiring a new superintendent:
Please reconsider. Because you're on the verge of making a regrettable mistake.
With limited information about Nick Gledich, the board's apparent choice, it makes sense to not take the negative approach. Indeed, the 55-year-old Gledich might be an excellent administrator, and he's probably a good person. But he's also been applying for jobs in Florida, Arizona, Tennessee and Arkansas, including in at least one district (Fayetteville, Ark.) far smaller than D-11. So perhaps he's just trying to escape his Orlando, Fla., gig. It also makes you wonder whether he'll commit long-term, and provide the stability D-11 badly needs.
Still, this isn't just about Gledich. It's about trying to convince the board that someone else would be much, much better.
In fact, the best choice and it's not too late to recognize that is already here, firmly established, with top-notch credentials and personal attributes.
For basically his entire career, Mike Poore has been diligently preparing himself to become District 11's superintendent. He has spent a quarter-century working his way into position, rising through the ranks and developing a deep sense of perspective at each level.
Long ago, it was easy to spot him as a rising star. He has excelled every step along the way, starting in the classroom as a history teacher. Soon, he was making a broader impression as head boys basketball coach at Doherty High School, then as athletic director at Mitchell. He also built a positive reputation at the state level, eventually chairing the Colorado High School Activities Association's powerful basketball committee and the governor's online task force.
The next logical step was moving up to principal at Mitchell in the late 1990s not the easiest time for an evolving school in a fast-changing part of town. But Poore succeeded, and when D-11 decided in 2000 to hire an interim superintendent, he applied. The district chose somebody else, and Poore likely realized he needed to prove himself as a top-level administrator.
So in 2003, Poore made his boldest move, leaving D-11 to become superintendent of the smaller Sheridan school district, southwest of downtown Denver. That district was in serious trouble, having been put on a state "watch list" that could have threatened its future. With Poore's guidance in his four years there, Sheridan became the state's first district to improve enough to be taken off that list.
He returned in 2007 as a deputy D-11 superintendent, and he's been making a difference again. Most recently, he has helped guide the district through the treacherous and stressful process of deciding what schools should close and which operations might consolidate. In that task, you become the arch-enemy of whole neighborhoods. But Poore has stood his ground.
Certainly, there was nothing wrong with the district considering outside applicants to replace retiring superintendent Terry Bishop. It has been a tough call, choosing whether to bring in an outsider with different experiences and ideas, or to go with a proven, energetic 47-year-old insider who fully understands our schools and community.
There's another factor here, which the board appears to have brushed aside. At such a pivotal time in D-11's history, is it really the right idea to hire a total stranger, who will need at least a year to fully grasp the job and city?
That answer might be yes if the district didn't have someone ready to take charge. In reality, District 11 already has the right person on staff, living here, fully aware of all the pitfalls, and ready to prioritize the problems and needs from Day One. He also has cultivated deep ties for the district across Colorado Springs, in ways that an outsider would take years to match.
Given all that, it's incredible that the D-11 board named Gledich the single finalist, despite all the jobs he's been pursuing and not getting. (Let's also note that Gledich withdrew from the Arkansas job saying he had accepted a position in Colorado, despite D-11 not yet having made an official offer. Hmmm.)
Actually, it's more incredible that the board didn't choose Mike Poore.
It's also not too late to turn that wrong into a right.