Smith resigns as SSEA president

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Two days after Superintendent Cyndy Simms announced $332,000 in recommended Steamboat Springs School District budget cuts, including the end of paid release time for the Steamboat Springs Education Association president, Mike Smith announced his resignation.

Smith, who has been the SSEA president for a little more than two years, informed fellow SSEA members of his resignation in an e-mail sent out Wednesday. On Thursday, Smith sent a similar e-mail to Simms and Steamboat Springs Board of Education members.

"It was a hard choice to make," he said Thursday. "If we could have worked out the release time, I'd keep doing it."

The Steamboat Springs School District granted Smith release time for the 2002-03 school year to help him balance his duties as a high school math teacher with his responsibilities as lead teacher representative on a myriad of local and state issues. Under the plan, Smith was paid his full salary while cutting his teaching duties in half.

Smith said returning to full-time teaching while maintaining his dedication to SSEA issues would shortchange his responsibility as a teacher, parent and husband.

"The way I am, I'd try to do what I've done the last year, plus teach six classes, which definitely isn't fair to my students or my family," Smith said.

Smith has contributed significantly to numerous district projects and programs, such as the ongoing development of the Knowledge and Skills-Based Pay system and revision of the pay-for-performance bonus compensation plan. Smith also attends all School Board meetings and has been a member of numerous district subcommittees.

At the state level, Smith has worked with the Colorado Education Association on insurance issues, and with Ski Country Uniserve, among other groups and organizations, in his capacity as SSEA president.

Smith said he will probably continue much of the state-level work to free up time for the next SSEA president to dedicate himself or herself to local issues. Smith said he doesn't know who will replace him as president.

"I'll still be active and around and working on a lot of issues," Smith said.

In the meantime, he said he'll enjoy spending more time with his children, 5-year-old Cole and 3-year-old Julia, and his wife, Kathy Gibbs.

Simms said Smith's leadership and dedication will be missed in the school district.

"I think Mike has brought the ability to see the needs of the people he represents and the perspective of the schools and the district, and balance the two," Simms said. "He knows how to be genuinely collaborative and he approaches conflict in a very thoughtful, positive, proactive way."

"He is truly the best SSEA president I've ever worked with," she said.

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