The Steamboat Springs School Board voted Friday to hire Donna Howell as the district's next superintendent. Her base salary will be $127,500.
Howell, who lives in Austin, Texas, opted to be paid an additional $312 per month in lieu of being covered by the district's health insurance plan, bringing her total compensation to $131,244 per year.
Only the superintendent is given the option of being paid the value of her health insurance coverage. "(This option) will be cheaper for the district," said Anne Muhme, the assistant to the superintendent.
The school district negotiated Howell's contract with her before Friday's meeting and she signed it Thursday. The contract is for three years.
Friday's meeting was largely a formality and lasted only a few minutes. The only item on the agenda was hiring the new superintendent. The vote was unanimous in support of Howell, and there was no discussion. School Board President Paul Fisher was not present. No community members attended. "I kind of expected some public," said Tami Havener, the board's vice president.
Howell will begin work Aug. 8.
Havener said she has provided Howell with information on property management companies in Steamboat Springs that can provide temporary housing while she shops for a home.
Howell has served as a regional vice president with Edison Schools for the past two years. Edison Schools is a private company that contracts with school districts to operate public schools.
Before her work in Texas, Howell was a superintendent for seven years in Burlington, Vt., a district with 4,200 students. She also served as a superintendent for six years in Park Forest, Ill., a district with 2,700 students.
Howell said she was aware of the challenges facing the district including a lawsuit filed by the Montessori charter school group and funding cuts.
"I'm not at all hesitant," she said. "Some of the issues are not uncommon to situations I have faced in other school districts. There are always situations to deal with."
Howell said her first task would be to meet and talk to as many people as possible.
"I am going to be extremely visible in the schools and community," Howell said. "I want to make sure I make myself available and that people get to know me."
Howell received her bachelor's degree from Rosary College in River Forest, Ill. and her master's from St. Xavier in Oak Lawn, Ill. She earned her doctorate at Northern Illinois University.
Howell's husband, David Howell, is a retired professor at the University of Vermont. They have eight children, all grown.
Howell replaces Cyndy Simms, who served nine years as the district's superintendent before accepting the same role in Mercer Island, Wash.
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