Public meets four finalists in D-51 superintendent search

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Members of the community are getting to meet the final four candidates chosen in District 51's search for the next superintendent.

There were almost 50 applicants in the original pool.

Monday night there was a meet and greet open to the public, parents and students.

We talked to all four finalists -- Ken Haptonstall, Phil Onofrio, Carrie Stephenson and John Williams -- to see what changes they would bring to District 51.

“The biggest change [I would make] is really developing a sense of trust between the community and the school district,” said Ken Haptonstall, the current superintendent of Garfield County School District 16. "Right now, I don't think there is a complete level of trust, and to move forward as a system, we are going to have to build that trust."

Phil Onofrio, the current chief operating officer of District 51, said, “I hope to bring a more data-orientated focus so we can measure where we are and where we are going, and hopefully that will improve our student outcomes.”

Carrie Stephenson is the current executive director and area superintendent of the Douglas County School District.

“My first step is making sure that all of our arrows are aligned in one direction, and all of the barriers are taken out of the way so the teachers can do what they do best and that's taking care of our kids," she said.

They candidates are in town to do in-person interviews with the school board on Tuesday.

“I love the personalized learning, I love the relationship with the union that we have, things like that,” said John Williams the District 51 School Board President, another candidate. "I think they are productive and good for our kids. What I really what to change is a trust factor or culture in the district, that changes the trust this community has with School District 51."

The district hopes to make the selection by May 1. The current superintendent will retire at the end of June.

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