By Cecilia Chan
Newly hired Dr. Curtis Finch will come on board July 1 as superintendent of Deer Valley Unified School District.
The Governing Board unanimously last week picked Mr. Finch, who replaces Dr. James Veitenheimer, who retires June 30. Mr. Finch, superintendent of Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District in Big Rapids, Mich., was one of two finalists.
Board President Kim Fisher said she partly took into consideration that Dr. Finch garnered the most support from community members, including employees, and parents who gave feedback to the board on the two job candidates.
And “I looked at the total qualities he will bring with his many years of experience,” she said, noting this was her personal opinion and not representative of the board. “I believe he will lead the efforts to continue pursuing excellence through a continuous improvement model, he will bring a positive accountability structure for all, and I believe he will work to advocate for our students. He has a very positive record of uniting diverse teams and is highly regarded by state leaders in his current district. I believe he will be able to build these type of positive relationships with our governmental officials here to hopefully resolve issues for Arizona students.”
Board Vice President Jenny Frank said she looks forward to collaborating with Dr. Finch.
“His commitment to public education was evident throughout the interview process,’ she said.
The district also issued a statement on behalf of the board, stating it selected an enthusiastic leader who is committed to the continuous improvement work valued in Deer Valley and will hit the ground running.
“Dr. Finch has a proven track record of success, has broad expertise, and is innovative,” the statement read. “We are confident that Dr. Finch will build upon the foundation and legacy provided by DVUSD’s retiring Superintendent, Dr. James R. Veitenheimer.”
District spokeswoman Monica Allread said Dr. Finch’s salary will not be disclosed until his contract is finalized, sometime after July 1.
According to a job advertisement by Ray and Associates, the head-hunting firm hired by the district, the salary and benefits package for the job “will be in excess of $200,000” with the final salary negotiated and determined based on experience, qualifications and meeting the board’s criteria.
Ray and Associates also wanted to keep from publication the number of candidates who applied for the job, according to Ms. Allread.
Deer Valley is the sixth largest school district in the state with 38 campuses that educate over 33,000 students.
Mr. Finch received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Seattle Pacific University and a masters in public school administration from the University of Alaska – Anchorage.
He received his Superintendent Certification from Central Michigan University and his Ph.D. in 1997 from Walden University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Dr. Finch began his career in 1989 as a teacher and coach in Alaska. He also taught and coached in Wasilla, Alaska, from 1990-1993.
In 1993 he became an assistant principal for Kodiak Middle School in Kodiak, Alaska, for one year. He then moved to Grayling, Michigan, where he served as assistant principal for Grayling Middle School from 1994-1997. He became principal of Sault Ste. Marie High School in 1997 until landing his first superintendent position for Reese Public Schools in 1999.
He has received two state Winner’s Circle awards and a Region III Superintendent of the Year award.
In his 18 years as a superintendent, he helped shape educational issues by testifying before the Michigan Legislature, the FCC in Washington DC, and serving on local, state, and national committees. He has also passed multiple school taxes, recently securing a $40 million Special Education Enhancement Millage and later creating Meceola Technical College for vocationally training adults.
Dr. Finch is married to Angie and has a daughter who is a math professor and a son who is completing his eye-doctor residency, according to the District website.