Farmington school officials approve one-year extension for Heitsch

Farmington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. George Heitsch will serve the district at least one more year after officials on Tuesday approved an unusual contract extension.

Heitsch said the one-year extension, which includes another one-year option, was a “mutual decision.”

“I think it’s important for us to finish the work we started,” he said, adding that at the end of the year, officials will decide whether “I’ve got enough juice left,” or it’s time to look for a new leader.

Hired in May of 2014, Heitsch formerly served as superintendent of Avondale School District. Among other things, his tenure has included a successful $131.5 million bond campaign, a grade level reconfiguration, challenging union contract negotiations, and last year’s contentious decision to close Harrison High School and Dunckel Middle School.

Heitsch said the last two and half years “feel like dog years with what we’ve been through.”

The unusual contract extension comes before Heitsch’s evaluation, due to a change in state law. The contract terms require the renewal, but the state established a new evaluation tool, and board members won’t begin required training until March 14.

Board member Jim Stark stressed the short extension is “in no way…based on a reflection of the job Dr. Heitsch has done. He’s done a tremendous job.”