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Dr. Pamela Swanson to Retire as Superintendent of Westminster Public Schools

After almost 40 years in education, 28 of them in Westminster Public Schools, Superintendent Pamela Swanson informed the Westminster Public Schools Board of Education that this year will be her last as superintendent.

“It has been an extraordinary opportunity and honor to lead this school district and community,” Swanson said. “WPS is a family of amazing teachers and staff who understand that teaching children is the most important job in the world. We are united in our belief that public education is truly the great equalizer in society.”

In announcing her pending retirement Swanson also told the board that she will be taking the month of September off to continue rehabilitation for her back. She had surgery during the summer.

“I came back in the summer to help with the opening of the school year and now that the district is up and running smoothly, I really need to focus on my own health,” Swanson said. “When I return in October it will be full steam ahead as we continue our important work.”

Swanson sent an email to her staff Wednesday morning saying the district has a bright future. “Our instructional model and Competency Based System have never been stronger,” she wrote. “Our finances are sound and the sense of purpose and camaraderie among staff is something in which my fellow superintendents marvel.”

Swanson came to Westminster Public Schools as an elementary school principal in 1995 before advancing to the Human Resources Department and then serving as Deputy Superintendent. In 2011, she was appointed interim superintendent and named superintendent in the winter of 2012.

In 2019 Swanson was named Metro North Woman of the Year.
In 2020 Swanson was also named Colorado Superintendent of the Year.

Under Swanson’s leadership and with the implementation of the district’s innovative Competency Based System (CBS), the district moved off of the state accountability clock with steadily improving test scores. CBS does away with the traditional grading system and instead requires students to show mastery of a learning topic before moving to the next learning level.

Westminster Public Schools has also played a major role in challenging Colorado’s accountability system which critics say fails to adequate

measure the strengths and weaknesses of schools and districts and is simply a reflection of a community’s socio-economic status.

In addition, this year, WPS leads the way by offering the highest starting teacher salary in the state of more than $60,000 a year.

Board President Ken Ciancio praised Swanson’s leadership. “She has been a fierce champion for education equity and has never been afraid to challenge the status quo, especially when it benefits our students,” Ciancio said. “She and her team also did a remarkable job steering us through the COVID pandemic when WPS was one of the first districts in the country to return to in-person learning.

Under district policy, the WPS Board of Education will now determine a succession plan for the superintendent’s position.