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Aspen schools chief new CDE deputy commissioner

Diana Sirko, Aspen school superintendent, will become deputy commissioner of education, the Aspen Daily News reported on its website Tuesday afternoon.

Colorado Department of Education

Colorado Department of Education

She replaces Ken Turner, who retired late last year. Turner was CDE’s point person on several major education initiatives, including implementation of the Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids. The first major milestone in that effort was passed last month when the State Board of Education approved new content standards in 13 subject areas.

CDE now is in the middle of developing a replacement system for the CSAP tests. The board has to make a decision on that by next December.

The department hasn’t issued any announcement. But, Daily News reporter Brent Gardner-Smith said CDE spokesman Mark Stevens confirmed the appointment. The Aspen district issued a news release announcing Sirko’s move.

Here’s the text of the Daily News story, used by permission:


Aspen School District Superintendent Dr. Diana Sirko is resigning her position in Aspen as of June 4 to take a position as deputy commissioner of education for the state, according to a press release from the school district.

In her new position, Sirko will be in charge of curriculum and instruction for the state and will be one of two deputy commissioners at the Colorado Department of Education.

“It’s very exciting for me as a life-long member of Colorado’s educational system, to try to have an impact at the state level; to do what’s best for all kids across the entire state,” said Sirko in a prepared statement.

Sirko has served on numerous educational committees, worked on curriculum and instructional programs statewide and has served on a variety of professional boards. Sirko has led the Aspen district and its elementary, middle school and high school since 2003. She told the Aspen board of education last fall that she was likely to retire from her position at the end of the 2010-2011 school year.

“I have loved my seven years in the Aspen School District. It has been a true pleasure to work with our students, staff, and community,” Sirko said in the statement. “I’m glad my husband will continue to coach at Aspen High School so I will still have the opportunity to be part of this great school district.”

Sirko’s husband, Mike Sirko, is the coach of the high school football team.

The Aspen board of education will begin a new superintendent search immediately.

“Filling Diana’s shoes will be no small task, but we’re confident the district has some exciting opportunities ahead,” said Charla Belinski, president of the board, in the statement. “The district’s staff and administrators are a cohesive and skilled team, and their professionalism leaves no doubt that we will remain in good hands throughout the transition.”

Sirko is a native Coloradan and a graduate of the Denver Public Schools, and she received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Colorado public universities. Her career as an educator in Colorado has spanned 35 years.

Sirko and her husband intend to remain in the Roaring Fork River valley while commuting to her offices at CDE in Denver.