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DougCo supt. stepping down

Jim Christensen, who has headed Colorado’s third-largest school district since 2003, is stepping down Oct. 1.

Chief Operating Officer Steve Herzog will serve as a “temporary replacement” for Christensen.

According to a school district press release, Christensen will “be joining in education organization that will focus on ensuring every child has a chance to learn and graduate from high school, even when facing or living in situations that point to the contrary.”

A Douglas County Schools spokesperson said details about the unnamed organization “have not been made public.”

The Douglas County school board will meet Monday night at 7:30 in an “emergency succession” session.

Douglas County is an affluent school district of 56,000 students and 6,000 staff. It covers an enormous, 870 square-mile swath of south-suburban and exurban Denver.

“While there is never a good time for a school district to lose a quality Superintendent, we feel confident the procedures we have in place will make this transition a smooth one,” school board President Kristine Turner said in a statement. “We are thrilled to have Steve work with us through this transition process and his strong experience in all facets of education within Douglas County schools will enable us to move forward quickly.”

Colorado Student Assessment Program scores released earlier this month show that Douglas County remains a high-performing school district, with 83 percent of its students proficient in reading and 71 percent proficient in writing and math. It also ranked high in student achievement growth, according to the new Colorado Growth Model.

And, according to an analysis by EdNews, Douglas County ranks second among the state’s 20 largest school districts in helping low-income students who scored unsatisfactory on the CSAP reach proficiency within three years. Just 8 percent of the district’s students qualify for free or reduced-coast lunch.

Last November, despite a lack of organized opposition, voters rebuked the school district by soundly defeating both a $395 million bond issue and a $17.1 million mill levy override. It was a rare defeat for the school district, and one with potentially severe repercussions, given that Douglas County typically adds between 2,000 and 2,400 students each year.

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