Farmington Schools superintendent lays out succession options

Farmington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. George Heitsch on Tuesday presented a plan for the district’s transition to a new leader.

Trustees earlier this month asked him to present a plan around his most important roles and responsibilities, and which staff members participate in those activities.

“We’re still not quite clear about what transition looks like to each of you individually,” he said Tuesday. “Traditionally, a transition between an outgoing and incoming superintendent occurs after a decision has been made by a Board of Education.”

That plan typically includes information about the district’s financial health, board/superintendent relationships, programming and student achievement, the strengths and weaknesses of the executive team, and key community stakeholders, Heitsch said.

“That incoming superintendent would have some real specific questions that they would want honest answers to based on the interview process and what they’ve learned,” he added.

Heitsch said he could also identify candidates within the system, review his calendar with them and provide mentoring and shadowing opportunities. The third option would be to identify someone to “test drive” the position, giving that person experience in areas where they needed additional work, such as decision-making and community interaction.

Internal candidate protocol

Trustee Zach Rich said he appreciated a month-by-month calendar of general superintendent activities included in Heitsch’s presentation. He also asked for a calendar of Farmington-specific activities, so that nothing “falls through the cracks.”

Trustees generally agreed that the board should not identify internal candidates.

“I think as we move forward in the process, anybody who may be interested internally should be reaching out to you for some honest conversations and mentoring,” Trustee Pam Green said. “I don’t think we as a board have specific guidelines for that.”

Trustee Jessica Cummings said she would be uncomfortable working with an internal candidate. She also felt that officials should wait to work on the transition with the search firm.

“My hope is that we open up the search to internal and external candidates,” she said.

Trustee Terry Johnson was concerned that, if something happens to the superintendent, no one is prepared to step in.

“For the future, the next superintendent comes in, whoever his or her associate superintendent is, we’ve got to make sure we have a transition plan in place,” he said. “That’s got to be more than just naming a person.”

Heitsch said his cabinet would have the collective knowledge to handle the work, individually or collaboratively. “I can think of three or four individuals who could take that calendar and at least keep the conversation moving forward.”

Search process continues

Proposals in response to the district’s Request for Information are due back February 1. In early February, trustees will meet in a facilitated workshop to learn and talk about the search process.

A draft timeline has officials hiring a search firm at their March 12 board meeting, after interviewing search firms during the week of March 4.

The district would accept applications between March 15 and April 15, with the search firm also conducting workshops and community meetings within that time frame. Initial interviews would be scheduled in late April, and the timeline has a new superintendent on board July 1.

To review the agenda packet documents referenced during this meeting, visit


Reported by