Rico Munn, 2019 Colorado Superintendent of the Year, Aurora Public School District, Aurora, Colo., and Deirdre Pilch, Superintendent, Greeley-Evans School District, Greeley, Colo.
Colorado: Leaders Matter
Nominated By: Lisa Escarcega, Executive Director, Colorado Association of School Executives
Rico Munn, 2019 Colorado Superintendent of the Year, Aurora Public School District, Aurora, Colo.
Rico Munn (https://superintendent.aurorak12.org/) represents one of the largest and most diverse school districts in the state, in which 70 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch. Since becoming superintendent in 2013, district graduation rates have increased by more than 15 percent in four years, and the dropout rate is at 12-year low of 2.5 percent. Twenty-seven of the district’s schools have earned “performance” ratings, the highest possible rating in Colorado’s accountability system. The district also won a “District of Distinction” award, a national annual recognition created by District Administration magazine.
Since 2013, Munn has spearheaded the implementation of a restorative justice system to decrease discipline rates. The district expulsion rates have fallen by 53 percent and suspensions have decreased by 28 percent. Munn’s leadership is focused on doing what is best for students and putting every possible support in place to improve their educational outcomes. His highest priority is serving the Aurora community. What’s more, he is the last to seek credit for his accomplishments, preferring instead to keep the spotlight on the work teachers and district staff do every day.
Exemplars of Leadership:
- Achieved national recognition for reform efforts.
- Focused improvement efforts on outcomes with significant accomplishments demonstrated.
- Emphasized the significant accomplishments of teachers and staff in contributing to the gains made by the district.
- Increased graduation rates significantly while addressing discipline through implementation of restorative justice program.
Deirdre Pilch, Superintendent, Greeley-Evans School District, Greeley, Colo.
Deirdre Pilch became superintendent in 2015. Among her top priorities were developing strong relationships with the local business community as well as developing an aggressive and targeted district strategic plan. She understood that both priorities were critical to ensuring the successful passage of a local mill levy override, which had failed twice before. In 2017, voters approved a mill levy override, resulting in more than $14 million a year for 7 years coming into the district.
Colleagues and community members largely credit Pilch with this success, citing not only her perseverance and hard work, but also her intentional efforts to create more trust among local businesses about the work of the district. Greeley’s strategic plan continues to guide the district, and includes actions related to personalized learning, organizational efficiency and a continuous improvement mindset.
Pilch’s talents are matched by her outstanding work ethic and unwavering commitment to ensure that every Greeley student exits the school system with the skills necessary to be successful in a postsecondary or career environment.
Exemplars of Leadership:
- Developed productive relationships with the business community in support of this district’s strategic plan.
- Attaining broad community support in mill levy override to support district reform efforts.