Durango schools fill top position

Colorado Springs man chosen as new superintendent

The Durango 9-R school board unanimously approved a decision to offer the superintendent job to Daniel Snowberger, an assistant superintendent in Colorado Springs’ Harrison School District.

The decision is contingent on a site visit that one board member and one administrator will make early next week. His contract is under negotiation.

After more than four hours of deliberation, the board chose Snowberger because of his communication skills, his tendency toward leading through collaboration and his emphasis on helping principals and teachers improve their instruction in order to bring up student achievement.

“Over and over it came back to students and that the most important piece of that is good instructional practices,” said Stephanie Moran, the board’s newest member. “He engages with principals, so there is a connection between superintendent and the principals and the teachers and the students.”

Board members also saw it as a plus that Snowberger has three school-aged children and an “aptitude to put roots down in Durango,” board member Julie Levy said.

Snowberger has worked as an administrator in Harrison School District for five years. The district has an enrollment of 11,000 students, much diversity and high rates of poverty, Snowberger wrote in his application. In the district’s effort to raise student performance, it had to work with more than $12 million in budget cuts over four years, he wrote.

In a community forum, Snowberger spoke of the importance of being visible in the district. He now visits each of Harrison’s schools at least once every two weeks, he said.

Snowberger also has been a teacher, principal and chief academic officer in schools in Douglas County, Florida and California.

He was one of two finalists the board considered for the job after a third finalist, Shannon Goodsell, withdrew.

Jeff Schell and Wendy Rice were the only two board members who participated in the search for former 9-R superintendent Keith Owen four years ago. Both said the most recent process included more input from community and staff members. Local residents and groups of students, teachers and staff, principals and administrators each interviewed Snowberger and finalist Jody Mimmack in Durango on Monday and Tuesday.

ecowan@durangoherald.com