'It's been a very great honor to serve'

Troeger, Loomis replace Sharp, Fisher on Steamboat Springs School Board

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After countless meetings lasting late into the night over the past four years, Paul Fisher and Tom Sharp were happy to make Monday night's Steamboat Springs School Board meeting not only their last one but also their shortest.

School Board member Tami Havener presented Fisher and Sharp with clocks on behalf of the district, and after kind words and cake, the two former members waved goodbye and headed home.

Pat Gleason, Michael Loomis and Jeff Troeger were sworn in as the board's newest members immediately after the reception for Fisher and Sharp.

"I think your leadership has been exemplary," Gleason told Sharp. "It was an honor to have served with you."

Havener referred to Sharp as "the senior statesman on the board" because he served a four-year term a decade ago before rejoining the School Board in 1999.

"I believe that it's been a very great honor to serve the students and parents and taxpayers of this community," Sharp said. "I'm confident the new and old board members will accomplish significant things."

Paul Fisher, the School Board's president for the past two years and its "fearless leader," according to Havener, said he was privileged to serve a district with wonderful students, staff and community support.

"This is just one amazing district," Fisher said.

"This community owes you a great debt for the time you've given it over the past four years," Sharp told Fisher.

The School Board then elected its new officers, most notably Paula Stephenson as its president. Havener remains the board's vice president, Gleason is its treasurer and Troeger, its secretary.

In other School Board business:

n Several dozen people came to Monday's meeting to express their support for football coach Mark Drake. Drake signed a letter of resignation with the district in August, but his attorney says the resignation was forced because of unsubstantiated allegations made against Drake. Many in attendance called for the School Board and Superintendent Donna Howell to put behind them "fictional tales and false allegations," and to rehire Drake as a teacher and coach.

One parent of a football player asked the School Board why it allowed Drake to return to the district this fall if it was investigating allegations against him last spring. After the meeting, Howell said the information provided to the School Board in the late spring and early summer warranted offering Drake a limited contract with a resignation. Howell said she couldn't provide more information because personnel matters are confidential by law. Because Drake is working under a post-retirement employee agreement he -- and all employees working under similar agreements -- has no right to continued employment regardless of whether allegations are present or not, Howell said.

n Steamboat Springs Middle School failed to meet an Adequate Yearly Progress requirement of the federal No Child Left Behind education law because of what Principal Tim Bishop called a "ridiculous" ruling by the state. Part of the No Child Left Behind law mandates 95 percent of students in a monitored group participate in Colorado Student Assessment Program testing. Of the 53 middle school students in the monitored group, only four didn't take the test, meaning 94.34 percent did. Three of the four weren't tested because parents refused their child's participation, which is allowed under state law. The district is working to submit an informal complaint to the state.

"It's the most ridiculous, uneducated decision I've ever heard from the state," Bishop said. "We had the best year of (CSAP) testing we've ever had. This is very demoralizing for a staff."

n Stephenson congratulated the high school football team and coach Drake for its win Saturday and the terrific season the team is having. School Board members signed a letter of congratulations to the team and coaching staff. Gleason said Saturday's quarterfinal win over D'Evelyn will go down as one of the best games every played by a Sailors football team.

n Stephenson said the school district's attorney informed the School Board that neither the district nor Troeger violated any laws when Troeger sent campaign e-mails to school employees on Election Day. If a Routt County District Attorney's Office investigation finds differently, the district will act accordingly, Stephenson said.

"We're treating this matter as if it's closed," Stephenson said.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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