Wanted: another great superintendent
July 5, 2006
The Park City School District is undergoing several major changes this year some more welcome than others. Seeing the new high school addition begin to take shape, for instance, is good news. However, last week’s surprise announcement that school district superintendent Dave Adamson is retiring is not good news. Adamson’s decision is particularly unsettling following the departures of school district Business Administrator Von Hortin and Merry Haugen, director of curriculum and instruction.
Adamson and Hortin have been instrumental in keeping the Park City School District on an even keel. Their experience with managing educational institutions and their ongoing professionalism allowed the district to set a proactive agenda rather than reacting to unforeseen problems. As a result, the district has made huge gains in achieving its goal of running some of the top schools in the country.
Adamson was particularly adept at distributing credit for the schools’ successes and therefore many taxpayers in the district may not be aware of the key role he played in bringing many divergent interests to the negotiating table and managing to satisfy all of them. Those familiar with the Park City School District’s somewhat turbulent history should appreciate the value of Adamson’s diplomatic skills.
As business administrator, Hortin offered guidance to the school board in making complicated financial decisions. During his eight-year tenure, Hortin’s advice was not always what the board members wanted to hear (for example, he was the one who had to send the original plans for the high school remodel back the drawing board when they came in over-budget) but the board members trusted him and took his advice.
Merry Haugen served Park City students in several capacities over the course of 20 years, most recently as the district’s director of curriculum. Having also been a principal, Haugen was well aware of the importance of coordinating class material from grade to grade and school to school. Under her direction, the district found ways to meet the state’s educational core requirements while also weaving in offerings like English as a Second Language and the International Baccalaureate program.
To their credit, none of these three talented administrators drew much attention to themselves and therefore it might be easy to overlook their vital contributions. Their successors however will likely appreciate the complexity of their predecessors’ jobs and the grace with which they were handled. Patty Murphy has been hired to take Hortin’s post. The application deadline for Haugen’s position recently closed but the hunt for a new superintendent is just beginning. The Park City school board will be fortunate to find education professionals as capable as these.
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