Last updated 10:13AM ET
December 14, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
New Durango School Chief Lists Priorities
(2008-05-20)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: Durango School District 9R new superintendent takes over the system July 1st.
But Dr. Keith Owen is in Durango this week preparing for his new job.
And he's already making plans for his first year.
He spoke with KSUT about those plans.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

VICTOR: Dr. Keith Owen has identified two priorities he wants to accomplish in his first year as Durango 9R superintendent.
Owen, who is presently Chief Academic Officer of Pueblo City Schools says the first is to develop a community based strategic plan, a sort of road map for the district.
OWEN: I FOUND IN MY TALKS WITH THE SCHOOL BOARD, WITH COMMUNITY MEMBERS, THAT WE REALLY NEED TO PUT TOGETHER A STRATEGIC PLAN TO GUIDE THE SCHOOL DISTRICT FOR THE NEXT FIVE TO TEN YEARS. AND REALLY TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION REALLY WHAT THE COMMUNITY, WHAT PARENTS, WHAT STUDENTS, THE STAFF AND THE TEACHERS AND SO WE'RE GOING TO EMBARK ON THAT IN THE SCHOOL YEAR 08-09.
At the same time he wants to develop relationships.
OWEN: I THINK THAT'S SOMETHING THAT CAME OUT LOUD AND CLEAR IS THAT PEOPLE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THE SUPERINTENDENT, THAT THEY UNDERSTAND THE POSITION, THAT THEY UNDERSTAND THE TEACHERS, UNDERSTAND THE STUDENTS, UNDERSTAND WHAT PARENTS WANT, AND I THINK THOSE TWO THINGS KIND OF GO HAND IN HAND. DEVELOPING A STRATEGIC PLAN, BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH STAKEHOLDERS, THOSE ARE TWO BIG AREAS I REALLY WANT TO FOCUS ON THIS FIRST YEAR.
He says the strategic plan should help foster greater understanding of policy governance of the district, and the appropriate roles of the school board and superintendent.
He says public school financing in Colorado isn't the best, but Durango has made the best out of what it has.
OWEN: I THINK DURANGO, WITH THE RESOURCES THAT THEY'VE BEEN GIVEN, ARE DOING AN OUTSTANDING JOB OF STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT. WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS ADVOCATE TO GET THE RIGHT RESOURCES SO WE CAN PAY THE TEACHERS IN DURANGO WHAT THE SALARIES SHOULD BE COMPETITIVE WISE IN THE SURROUNDING AREAS AND MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE KEEPING QUALITY PEOPLE IN THE SYSTEM HERE.
This is Owen's first superintendency.
He says, like Pueblo, Durango is a school system with a lot of diversity among the student body, from different cultural backgrounds.
OWEN: WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT'S VERY GOOD I THINK. IT GIVES US A DIFFERENT FLAVOR, IT GIVES US A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE OF WHAT'S GOING ON AND IT REALLY BRINGS A NEW VALUE TO OUR SCHOOL SYSTEMS.
Unlike Pueblo, Durango is a smaller district, something Owens says fits in well with his style and is attractive.
OWEN: IN PUEBLO WE HAVE ABOUT 36 SCHOOLS AND 18-THOUSAND STUDENTS. IN DURANGO IT'S A LITTLE LESS THAN FIVE THOUSAND STUDENTS AND ABOUT TEN SCHOOLS. AND THAT FOR ME WAS A REAL OPPORTUNITY TO GET INTO THE SCHOOLS AND THAT'S SOMETHING I VERY MUCH ENJOY. I'VE BEEN ABLE TO DO THAT AS A PRINCIPAL I'VE BEEN ABLE TO DO THAT IN THE CENTRAL OFFICE. BUT IN A SIZE OF 36 SCHOOLS, LIKE PUEBLO HAS, IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO DO THAT IN A MEANINGFUL WAY. AND I THINK DURANGO LENDS ITSELF TO THAT OPPORTUNITY WHICH WAS ALSO SOMETHING THAT I VALUE.
Owen assumes the superintendency of District 9R July 1st, succeeding Mary Barter who is retiring after 9 years at the helm of the district.
Owen has signed a one year contract with the system, with a first year compensation set at 150-thousand dollars.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
© Copyright 2017, ksut