Time to End School District Conflict

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There are those who argue that there are dozens of problems in our school district beyond the conflict between Strawberry Park Principal John DeVincentis and Superintendent Cyndy Simms.

That's difficult to believe considering there hasn't been a contested school board race in seven years. Just last year, Gary Buchan moved shortly after being elected in an uncontested race and Pat Gleason was the only person to seek the vacancy. If things were so bad for so long, surely the public would have taken a little more interest in the school board before now.

Sure, there are issues that must be dealt with. But the current rancor in the school district surfaced only after the dispute between Simms and DeVincentis boiled over.

On Thursday, the school board will review Simms' most recent evaluation of DeVincentis, which DeVincentis believes was unfair. It is our hope the board acts quickly after conducting the review and that all parties agree to abide by the board's decision. This dispute has already occupied too much of the district's time.

DeVincentis has done an excellent job at Strawberry Park Elementary in his more than 18 years in the district. It is arguably the best school in the district and among the best in the state. It is no wonder that DeVincentis' students, parents and teachers are so passionate about retaining him as their principal.

But DeVincentis' success at Strawberry Park does not mean he is immune from taking direction from and answering to the district superintendent. Ultimately, he has a responsibility to support the policies the board adopts and administration implements, even if he personally disagrees.

Simms also has a remarkable track record with this district. She works tirelessly. Just as Strawberry Park Elementary ranks among the best in the state, the Steamboat Springs School District ranks among the best in the state. Simms deserves a significant amount of credit for that and anyone who suggests otherwise does her a disservice.

But Simms shares blame. Foremost, it is hard for the public to come to grips with the notion that the principal of a school as successful as Strawberry Park earned a subpar personnel evaluation and that he is the only administrator not deserving of a pay-for-performance bonus. Simms must be cognizant of the intense support DeVincentis has in the Strawberry Park community.

The bottom line is that this dispute has gone on long enough. The board must put it to rest without further debate.

DeVincentis and Simms are exceptional educators whose talents Steamboat should want to retain. For the good of the district, we hope they can accept the board's outcome and put this issue behind them.

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