Christensen follows his heart

Posted 9/1/09

Jim Christensen’s decision to resign as Douglas County School District’s Superintendent came down to his 8-year-old daughter, Linda. “The …

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Christensen follows his heart


Jim Christensen’s decision to resign as Douglas County School District’s Superintendent came down to his 8-year-old daughter, Linda.

“The opportunity kind of fell in my lap, honestly,” Christensen said.

After adopting Linda two years ago from Haiti, Christensen has spent a lot of his personal time engaged with mission work.

He was approached by a group in Texas who was investigating a start-up company to deal with the drop-off rate in education with a strong drive to close the achievement gap in underprivileged areas.

“I want to be part of this think-tank,” Christensen said. “I don’t know where we will land, but this is a chance I don’t want to walk away from.” Christensen’s last official day will be Oct. 1.

At an emergency succession meeting of the school board Aug. 24, a motion was approved to designate Steve Herzog, chief operating officer, “as the sole finalist to be the interim superintendent until the board selects its superintendent.”

Douglas County Board of Education President Kristen Turner said she believes there were several reasons Christensen decided to move on.

“I can’t climb into his head, but I believe there were a combination of factors,” Turner said. She mentioned political reasons may have effected a decision to leave, but that, she said, “played a lessor role I am sure.” Four seats on the Douglas County School Board are up for election Nov. 3.

Christensen said election results, the budget cuts and changes in the school procedures did not impact his decision.

“I have been through tougher times,” Christensen said. “I probably have three or five opportunities come my way every year, and if I was running from what I was facing here, I would have done it a couple years ago.”

In Christensen’s resignation letter to the staff, he thanked the staff and supporting community teams associated with the district.

“Simply stated, you are the best I have ever been around,” Christensen said.

Herzog said he learned of the superintendent’s news “fifteen minutes before the rest of the world.”

Herzog offers 30 years in education with 15 of those in Douglas County schools.

In the meantime, Turner said the board of education will work with a consultant, as the search for a new superintendent begins.

“Whether or not we will hire Steve full-time, we have to go through candidates and will conduct a full-blown search,” Turner said. “It basically will be the job of a new school board.”

Christensen said that Herzog has participated in activities at the superintendent level for a long time, and with a strong succession plan and good policies already in place, the transition should be successful.

“There are some community collaborative issues we need Steve to get in the middle of,” Christensen said. “But we are getting it all organized.”


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