GOLDEN — In a split decision, the Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education has named a Douglas County Public Schools administrator as its sole finalist for the open-superintendent post.

Daniel McMinimee, assistant superintendent of secondary education for Douglas County Schools, emerged as the lone finalist out of more than 60 fully-vetted applicants. Prior to his role as assistant superintendent, McMinimee was a director of schools and a concurrent enrollment coordinator. He has also served as principal, coach and teacher in Oregon.

Jeffco’s board president, Ken Witt, said McMinimee’s commitment to academic achievement was stellar and McMinimee will be able to meet the board’s academic goals.

However, the decision to appoint a Douglas County administrator, if nothing else, may only widen the gap between the board’s conservative majority and certain populations of Jefferson County.

Critics of the board majority’s agenda often claim the board is laying the ground work for reforms implemented in Douglas County, including more charter schools and abandoning their collective bargaining agreement with its teachers union. Those reforms are not necessary in Jeffco, the critics say.

“Yet again, we’re going down the exact same path [as Douglas County],” said Ami Prichard, the district’s union president.

Witt maintains the Jeffco board is making decisions for Jeffco students and there is no link between the two school districts.

A member of the board’s minority, Lesley Dahlkemper, said somberly she hoped the board would have found a candidate to unite the district.

“We had great candidates to choose from, ” she said.   “We’ll see how it goes moving forward. ”

The suburban school board first learned it would need to hire a new leader when Cindy Stevenson, who led the district for 12 years, announced after the November school board elections her plans to retire at the end of the school.

The search intensified — and became politically charged — when Stevenson left her post in February. She said her relationship with board’s new conservative majority had strained and she was unable to do her job.

The board did not appoint an interim leader. Instead they asked four of Jeffco’s executives to form a leadership team and report directly to the board.

Ray and Associates Inc., an Iowa-based firm, led the search that included town halls, surveys and recruitment.

Under Colorado law, the board must wait 14 days before officially offering the position to any of the finalists. The district will announce public meetings with McMinimee soon.

The advertised salary for the superintendent is about $280,000.