Superintendent selected

Johnstone hired to lead Dallas schools

Michelle Johnstone has accepted an offer to become Dallas School District’s next superintendent.

Photo by Jolene Guzman.
Michelle Johnstone has accepted an offer to become Dallas School District’s next superintendent.

DALLAS — The Dallas School District found what it wanted in its next superintendent in Colorado.

Michelle Johnstone, currently the superintendent of Brush School District in Brush, Colo., was offered and has accepted the job as Dallas’ new superintendent starting July 1.

Monday’s announcement ends a nearly nine-month search to find a new leader after former superintendent Christy Perry left to become the superintendent of the Salem-Keizer School District last summer.

“It’s an extremely good fit,” said Mike Blanchard, Dallas School Board chairman. “A lot of the qualities we were looking for, she had.”

Among those qualities was finding “an instructional leader that would work in collaboration with our staff and community,” Blanchard said.

Dallas’ search involved community members, parents, district staff and the work of a 27-member panel that helped evaluate the 18 candidates who applied for the post. Ten candidates were interviewed and three finalists emerged.

“I think in the end, we found a really good leader who really wants to come to Dallas for what we are about here,” Blanchard said. “The conversations with her were all about learning and that spoke volumes.”

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Blanchard said when he called Johnstone Sunday night to extend the offer, she didn’t hesitate to accept.

“She said she wants to come to a district like this,” he said. “She is very excited about coming to this district.”

Pending the outcome of contract negotiations, Johnstone, 51, will be paid $125,000 in salary. A final contract will be approved at a future Dallas School Board meeting.

Dennis Engle, who has been serving as interim superintendent, will resume his role as assistant superintendent once Johnstone joins the district.

In the meantime, Blanchard said Engle and Johnstone will be working together to assure a smooth transition between now and July 1.

“We need to ensure that students leave our educational system ready to achieve their goals and are contributing members of our society,” Johnstone said in a statement following the announcement. “Becoming the Dallas superintendent is an exciting opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the district’s children. I look forward to becoming a part of this wonderful community.”

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