Boardmember Kara Mueller said at the start of Tuesday’s meeting that the hiring process for the athletic director position was “a little bit different” this time, with the board taking a more hands-on approach.
Typically the board approves a hire based on the recommendation of the superintendent and principals. However, because the school has in the past “struggled to hire and keep a competent athletic director,” and considering the fact that a new superintendent has just been hired, the board “decided we would be more involved in this process,” said Mueller.
The process involved putting together a committee of teachers, parents and students to conduct interviews of the two candidates, Rawls and interim athletic director and former Ridgway Schools industrial arts teacher Mike Bryson. Rawls served as principal at Montrose’s Centennial Junior High School from 1986 to 1998 and athletic director/assistant principal at Montrose High School from 1998 to 2004. Cristy Orvis was the only boardmember to attend the interviews.
While the interview committee did not make an actual recommendation for the athletic director position, their notes, as well as Orvis’s observations from the interviews, were used by the school board to make their decision. The four boardmembers present at Tuesday’s meeting (Mueller, Orvis, Valerie Hill, and Connie Stapleton Kenney) chose Rawls for his years of experience in the education system.
Because the Ridgway Schools Athletic Director position remains part-time, a majority of boardmembers expressed concern at the meeting that having a second job might take away from the athletic director’s effectiveness. They also expressed a desire to have the athletic director that is financially responsible and capable of staying within a given budget.
“The thing that rises to the top for me is that Gary has so much in this tool box, so many years of trial and error that he has already done,” said Mueller, who said she had worked with Rawls at Centennial Junior High. “He has a way of earning and giving respect. He is an excellent manager and he is a teacher’s teacher.”
Kenney was drawn to Rawls by the length of experience he has had with the Colorado High School Activities Association.
“I think his experience with CHSAA is going to be greater than Mike’s, who dealt with it for six months,” she said, adding “we are at such a critical point right now, we are trying to build programs and I look at Gary’s experience and I feel like it is something he can do.”
Orvis said Rawls’s experience was the deciding factor for her. “The experience and the knowledge and the way he answered questions told volumes,” Orvis said.
After its June 16 decision, the board formally offered the athletic director position to Rawls. As of press time, Rawls has not yet signed a contract.