Wednesday, October 16, 2002
Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs Board of Education is hosting a facilitator to enhance communication between parents, teachers, the administrative team and superintendent at 6:30 p.m. at Olympian Hall.
"I would like to see as many teachers, parents and support staff show up as possible," said Mike Johnson, a teacher at Strawberry Park Elementary School.
The facilitated discussion is meant to develop ways to prevent communication barriers that lead to misunderstandings and conflict between the board and its constituents.
Superintendent Cyndy Simms said the process is meant to be thoughtful and the anticipated outcome is to create a new synergy between all parties involved.
Participants in the discussion will include the board of education, the group Parents for Dr. D, Education Association President Mike Smith, a number of teachers, Simms, Principal Dave Schmid and the district accountability committee.
Each group has representatives that will speak during the discussion while other group members will be there exclusively to listen.
Simms described the discussion as similar to how Indian tribes settled disputes by gathering in a circle and representing all sides of an issue before reaching a conclusion.
Board of Education President Paul Fisher said the groups invited are the main constituents to the board of education.
He said the DAC, a subcommittee of the school board, brings to the board and other staff in the district ideas and feelings present in the community.
The outcome of the meeting is a beginning step to resolving current issues that have arisen between the school board, parents and administrators during the past few months.
Simms said the discussion would not include the current controversy with Strawberry Park Elementary Principal John DeVincentis. She said the discussion would center on the root of the problems in the district related to ineffective communication.
Jim Swiggart, chairman for Parents of Dr. D, said the group had requested the board of education conduct an anonymous survey from the certified staff of the administrative team and superintendent. He said he hopes the group will get an opportunity to discuss implementing the survey at the meeting. He said although the group will not address the controversy with DeVincentis, the board and superintendent directly, they would discuss circumstances that gave rise to the conflict.
"Cyndy and the board need to realize how many people have concerns," Johnson said.
He said he would support an anonymous staff survey because some teachers fear retaliation if they speak out.
"A lot of teachers are not willing to take that risk that is a problem that needs to be addressed," he said.
Simms said people's fear that there will be repercussions if they speak or give their opinion is false and does not help improve the current system.