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Dougco names superintendent finalist

Douglas County School District on Friday named a sole finalist for the superintendent’s job – Elizabeth Celania-Fagen, who has run the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona for the past two years.

District leaders made the announcement Friday, naming Celania-Fagen as their likely pick for the job vacated by Jim Christensen on Oct. 1. Steve Herzog, the district’s chief operating officer, is serving as interim superintendent.

“She hit a home run on each of the three areas identified by the board,” Dan Gerken, the Dougco board member who led the search effort, said in a news release, “passionate about success for all children and academic achievement; supportive of school choice and educational options; and, commitment to performance-based compensation.”

Tucson, a district of 56,000 students, is Celania-Fagen’s first superintendency. Prior to that, she served as associate superintendent of the Des Moines Independent School District in Iowa.

Douglas County, Colorado’s third-largest school district, enrolled 59,932 students in fall 2009. Its poverty rate is among the lowest in the state at 8 percent. More than half of Tucson’s students live in poverty.

Celania-Fagen holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Drake University in Iowa.

Douglas County’s search team is expected to visit Tucson in the next two weeks. School board members are likely to vote on Celania-Fagen’s appointment next month.

To learn more:

Click here to read the district’s press release, issued Friday, announcing Celania-Fagen as the sole finalist. (You’ll need to scroll down the page; you’ll also find a link to information about the search process.)

Click here to read the letter that Celania-Fagen released Friday to her employees about the Dougco position.

Click here to see a September 2009 video of Celania-Fagen talking with Arizona reporters about a tough budget year.

Click here to read a March 2008 profile of Celania-Fagen when she moved from Des Moines to Tucson.

And, one more, click here to learn about the Tucson Unified School District.

Nancy Mitchell can be reached at

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