By Jamie Leary

GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – Superintendent Dan McMinimee knew there was a possibility his contract would not be renewed, but he didn’t know what the official decision would be until he heard it at the public meeting Thursday night.

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McMinimee was sitting with the five Jefferson County School Board members as the vote came down, and the decision was unanimous: the board voted to replace McMinimee once his contract ends.

“For whatever reason, the board feels that there’s a better candidate out there and if they feel that way, that’s their right to make a change,” McMinimee told CBS4 Friday.

The board were all in agreement. They felt McMinimee had done a good job bringing stability to the district. They said he had provided a solid platform to build on. But they wanted to start searching for someone with more experience.

“I firmly believe that Mr. McMinimee is going to develop and do an extraordinary job as (a) superintendent. He needs the opportunity to have that growth, though, and that’s going to take other opportunities to get him there. I therefore believe that it’s appropriate we do the search now and that we do it in the season that maximizes his ability to get a position elsewhere if that’s what he chooses to do,” said Brad Rupert, treasurer of the Jefferson County Board of Directors.

Dan McMinimee (credit: CBS)

Dan McMinimee (credit: CBS)

The board, whose current members have been serving together a little over a year, said the goal was to make the transition process as transparent as possible. After the vote Thursday, the board president made a point to quash accusations by some that say the decision was intended to get back at the previous board who hired McMinimee. A hire that some say was predetermined and happened behind closed doors.

“We could choose either choice and it will be right for some and wrong for others. We know that that is why I consider this to be one of the most challenging decisions that we as board have tried to take on since we began here a year ago. I believe that this board is committed to something that I think is important and I want to share it with you. That is, we will do our level best to do what we believe is right for 86,000 students in JeffCo, for our staff and for JeffCo’s future. That is the bottom line. I do not think there is an agenda that is political and I don’t think there is an agenda to get even with any of our predecessors,” said Ron Mitchell, board president.

Although Mcminimee has an extensive background in school administration, Board Secretary Amanda Stevens said she had exacting standards and wanted to see if there was a better choice out there. Stevens, along with the other four board members, outlined what they were looking for in a superintendent.

“I am first and foremost looking for educational expertise because I think the educational environment is unique. I believe that JeffCo needs and students deserve a capable connector and communicator, someone who is a proactive ambassador of our schools in our community and our state to tell the stories of the great accomplishments of our students and schools. To articulate the deep needs that we have. And I believe that JeffCo needs a strategic innovator, someone who can articulate and execute district wide initiatives that support and complement the school level initiatives,” said Stevens.

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As much as McMinimee said he respects the decision of the board and its top priority, which is the well-being of the students, he said he wasn’t fully aware that the board had issues with his performance.

“We had conversations but in terms of a formal performance evaluation, that’s never happened… so again, what I said was I think things are going in the right direction and I still think things are going in the right direction in our buildings in Jefferson County and so again it’s their decision, I respect that,” said McMinimee.

McMinimee says he knows he made a difference, he knows the Jefferson County School District is a better place today than it was when he started and he says he knows he will get another opportunity to make a difference somewhere else.

CBS4’s Melissa Garcia talked with parents who were picking up children from Creighton Middle School Friday on their reaction to the board’s decision.  Some were looking forward to changes they hoped that a new superintendent would bring to the district.

“Someone who’s open to listening, to just doing the right thing,” said one mom.

“I’m actually kind of happy,” a father added.  “I think we could have a better superintendent.  He’s been in there for a while.  Probably got a little mundane with the situation.”

“The current school board I think is making the right decision based on what salary they were paying him and the previous superintendent to that, and all the arguments over why not to have him appropriately interviewed,” said another dad.

In the meantime, the school board will begin a national search for the next leader of the Jefferson County School district. It will hire a search firm that will create a process that allows for public input.

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McMinimee’s $220,000 contract is officially up June 30 of this year.