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Pueblo school board announces 3 finalists for superintendent job

Two Colorado educators and a third from Florida are finalists for the Pueblo City Schools superintendent position.

The city’s school board made the announcement in a media release late Monday evening.

The finalists are Brush School District Superintendent Michelle L. Johnstone, Pueblo Central High School principal Lynn Seifert, and Lee County (Florida) School District Executive Director for School Development Constance A. Jones.

One of the three will replace outgoing Superintendent Maggie Lopez, who is retiring at the end of June. Lopez has led the Pueblo school district for four years. She announced her retirement — after a 37-year career in education — earlier this year.

The new superintendent will inherit a district in transition. Pueblo’s urban school system is the largest of 11 districts entering either year four or five on the state’s accountability clock. The district’s schools, which are among some of the lowest performing in the state, have been through four years of turnaround efforts.

Since 2010, the state has linked its accreditation of school districts to an annual ranking. Districts that fall in the bottom two categories have five years to improve or face state sanctions. Pueblo will be accredited in July with a “priority improvement” rating.

The southern Colorado school district is about 3 percentage points away from a safe rating on the state’s rating system.

If the district’s students don’t post enough academic growth on standardized tests — the measure Colorado uses to judge a district’s progress — the new superintendent will have less than a year to stave off some form of state intervention.

District officials told the State Board of Education earlier this month they’re confident Pueblo will beat the clock because of processes put in place by Lopez and her leadership team. However, some members of the state board raised concern over a superintendent transition.

Pueblo board president Kathy DeNiro assured the board Pueblo won’t miss a beat in its improvement efforts during the transition.

DeNiro and her board colleagues will hold public interviews with the finalists May 6. Pueblo community members have been encouraged to submit questions in advance of the 6:30 p.m. meeting at district headquarters.

Here’s more background on the finalists from the district’s media release:

Dr. Constance A. Jones Jones is currently the Executive Director, School Development of Lee County School District in Fort Myers, FL. Jones holds a BS in Elementary Education/Music from Ball State University (IN), a MED in Curriculum & Instruction/Math & Science from University of South Florida, an EDS in Educational Leadership/Curriculum & Instruction from University of South Florida and a PhD in Educational Leadership/Curriculum & Instruction from University of South Florida. Dr. Michelle L. Johnstone Johnstone is currently the Superintendent of Schools of Brush School District in Brush, CO. Johnstone holds a BA in Spanish from MacMurray College (IL), an MA in Linguistically Diverse Learners from University of Northern Colorado and an EdD in Educational Leadership from University of Northern Colorado. Dr. Lynn Seifert Seifert is currently the Principal at Central High School in Pueblo, CO. Seifert holds a BA in Secondary Education from Austin Peay State University (TN), an MA in Education Leadership and Supervision from Tennessee State University and an EdD in Education Leadership from Northcentral University (AZ).