Gleason appointment criticized

Teachers association says more public input needed

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— The Steamboat Springs Education Association said the Steamboat Springs School Board should have sought more public input before recruiting and appointing Pat Gleason to fill a vacant position on the school board.

Mike Smith, president of the teachers and support staff association, said Gleason was hand picked.

The new director, Pat Gleason, applied for the vacant position two days after the Nov. 30 deadline and was appointed to serve the two-year term at a board study session that night.

"We heard that (the board) went out there and recruited. I just didn't feel like that was quite fair to the greater district," he said. "No one knew. There was no opportunity (to recruit someone else)."

Smith acknowledged that the process followed district policy as well as Colorado law. However, he said the organization is concerned the process was rushed.

"(The board) needs to be well within its legal rights and in the future to take a closer look on how they make appointments. I don't know anything to do about it now," Smith said.

Board member Tom Sharp said the school board was in an unusual situation when no one applied in the three weeks the opening was advertised. The vacancy on the board was created when Gary Buchan resigned shortly after he was elected to the board. Buchan resigned because he accepted a job in Maryland.

Between the Friday deadline and the Monday board study session where the board appointed Gleason, Sharp said he and board member Paula Stephenson had separately contacted Gleason about the position.

"It wasn't an organized procedure," Sharp said.

"We simply had no applicants and if anyone wanted to ask members of the community, they were free to call."

Gleason's appointment makes him the fourth out of the five current board members who were originally appointed to the board. All of the other appointees Paul Fisher, Tami Havener and Paula Stephenson have since been elected to the board.

"If people keep resigning, the board can pick and choose whom they want and stack a board to change the way things are done," he said.

Smith said the board should have extended the Nov. 30 deadline and allowed other school organizations to recruit interested applicants.

"The issue is that there are potentially other people who did not see the paper (where the advertisement was placed), and while the board extended courtesy to certain candidates, they didn't extend them to the general public. That really should have been done," he said.

Sharp said the recruitment process is a natural part of a school board member's job, which has to fill vacancies for many of the district's committees.

He said the board did not consider extending the deadline after Gleason handed in his application.

Buchan officially leaves the board on Dec. 31.

Under state law, the board had 60 days after Buchan's departure to fill the vacancy, which would have given the district until March to find a replacement.

If the position was not filled after 60 days, the board's president could then appoint a director.

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