PI Editorial: Roaring Fork Schools’ new superintendent’s top priorities should be listening, learning and leading

Post Independent Editorial Board

The search for Roaring Fork School District’s next superintendent has narrowed to three finalists.

Community meetings started last week and continue this week. No matter which one is chosen, it appears RFSD has three strong candidates to choose from, and we appreciate all three for recognizing the opportunity it presents as well as just how amazing of a community it is to live in.

For candidates, the application process is typically the easiest part of the job. Once a person accepts a job is when the real work begins, and there is plenty of work to be done in Roaring Fork Schools.

The good news is that outgoing Superintendent Rob Stein and his administrative staff have laid a strong foundation for the next superintendent to build on. Everyone has their own leadership style, but the next superintendent would do best to learn about what’s been working, where things could be better and what educators throughout the district see as the biggest challenges facing their schools.

In other words, they should take a fluid and flexible approach to best get the lay of the land while also identifying how their leadership skills and style can most benefit students and their families as well as teachers and support staff.

Mental health care access for students and teachers alike will be key as we all hopefully continue to move past the more stringent pandemic restrictions.

It will also take focus and effort to learn the commonalities and differences between our three communities. Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt are very much linked economically — and all three face an astronomically rising cost of living — yet they also have their differences. Learning the unique challenges of our communities and supporting school leaders and staff to tackle those will be key to the next superintendent’s success.

Stein, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, has helped develop connections with Latino families and students throughout the district, but more can and should be done to make sure students districtwide have the same opportunities for success regardless of which school they attend.

At the same time, we hope the next superintendent is really excited about the opportunity they’ll have here both professional and personally. This is a wonderful part of the country to live in and is truly a blessing, despite its many challenges. We also remain optimistic about the future — something we really hope our next superintendent shares as they get to know the students, teachers, parents and community members of Roaring Fork School District.

The Post Independent editorial board members are Editor Peter Baumann, Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud, and community representatives Mark Fishbein and Danielle Becker.

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