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Mancos school board hopes to hire superintendent this month

Board to select from five remaining candidates for the job
Mancos School District Superintendent Brian Hanson speaks at a graduation ceremony in 2016.

With longtime Superintendent Brian Hanson set to retire at the end of the school year, the Mancos school board hopes to finalize the selection of his replacement by the end of April.

According to Mancos School District RE-6 Board of Education President Pamela Coppinger, the board this week at a special meeting narrowed its list of candidates down to five from the original 13 that applied for the job. Three candidates are from Colorado, including current Mancos High School Principal John Marchino. The other two are from out of state.

“We’re trying to do this as quickly as possible,” Coppinger told The Journal.

Travel plans are being made for the two outside candidates to come to Mancos for a meet and greet with staff and students. The candidates will also receive a tour of the facilities. Another meet and greet will be held that evening for members of the public to have the opportunity to ask questions.

Hanson announced his retirement last summer. His 13-year tenure as superintendent will end at the end of this school year.

The board is looking for a leader who will quickly get up to speed with the district’s strategic plan and expand on its project-based learning initiative.

Project-based learning is a method of teaching that emphasizes hands-on problem-solving. According to the Buck Institute for Education, “Students work on a project over an extended period of time – from a week up to a semester – that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question. They demonstrate their knowledge and skills by creating a public product or presentation for a real audience.”

Mancos schools have “innovation status” from the Colorado State Board of Education, which gives them far more autonomy and flexibility in their approaches and methods of teaching.

“We’re a rural school, so being a superintendent of Mancos is much different than being a superintendent in Cherry Creek in Denver,” Coppinger said. “I feel that our kids are very different in Mancos. It’s a small school. Relationships are different. Everybody knows everybody here.”

Hanson told The Journal that the next superintendent will likely spend plenty of time fighting for more money from the state and pushing back against “unfunded mandates and unnecessary assessments.”

He also believes the district has been able to ride out the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I just think this little district is on solid ground and will continue to be on solid ground,” Hanson said.

Hanson is most proud of the staff that the district has put together over the years, as well as the capital improvements to district facilities through state grants.

Mancos School District officials also learned this week that they will receive $896,799 in federal money from the American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Joe Biden last month.

The massive stimulus bill included $122 billion in relief for K-12 schools. About $1.17 billion will be distributed to school districts throughout the state by the Colorado Department of Education.

Hanson said he is still waiting for “fine-tuned” guidelines on how the money can be spent. Past rounds of stimulus money have gone toward laptops, hiring a councilor and math interventionist and investing in a math recovery curriculum for the high school.

With this third round of federal aid, Hanson aims to pitch the school board on the idea of providing stipends to teachers and staff for “a job well done during this coronavirus.”

“Mainly I’m looking at trying to get it into the hands of teachers and staff,” Hanson said.

While Hanson may start a consulting firm with a friend after leaving the job, his primary focus will be spending time with loved ones.

“My two adult kids, my wife of 36 years, have unselfishly shared me for 35 years in an education career,” Hanson said. “And now it’s their time. I’m just going to enjoy life and enjoy family.”