Howell: School Board's KSBP talk legal

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The Steamboat Springs School Board's decision to discuss the Knowledge and Skills Based Pay system at the end of its April 12 meeting was legal and justified, Superintendent Donna Howell wrote in an e-mail to district staff.

Howell sent the e-mail Tuesday after returning from a spring break trip and learning of the criticism the School Board received for its discussion.

The criticism "was quite discouraging given the fact that the board is serious about its obligation to uphold the open meetings law, and committed to finding a way to attract, retain and reward the work of teachers and support staff through an alternative compensation plan," Howell wrote.

The controversial discussion took place after the School Board came out of executive session at the end of its meeting.

Earlier in the meeting, the board had discussed the KSBP system, but its members were unable to agree on a unified position regarding the still-developing system that seeks to pay teachers and support staff based on the results of a rigorous evaluation process. Board members then decided to schedule a special meeting at a later date to discuss KSBP and hammer out a unified position.

At the end of the meeting, after the School Board had entered into and exited from an executive session, the KSBP issue was raised again because board members couldn't determine a time before spring break to hold the special meeting.

"They hadn't planned to further discuss their position on KSBP but were unable to find a time to meet until May 3," Howell wrote. "They heard very loud and clear from the KSBP committees that the committees wanted a direction from the board. With that in mind, one of the board members suggested to see if the board could find a common position."

The resulting discussion did yield a common position, and that position was presented to the KSBP development committee at its meeting later that week.

Some members of the KSBP committee said they felt slighted by the School Board's decision to further discuss KSBP after those who attended the April 12 meeting had left. One committee member also questioned the legality of the discussion under the open meetings law.

On Tuesday, Howell said the discussion was legal. The School Board didn't take action and Howell took notes during the discussion, she said.

Her e-mail also encouraged staff members to attend the School Board's Monday study session, during which board members will discuss a proposed position statement on KSBP.

The position statement, which hasn't been approved by the School Board, states board members thinkthat:

n the district can't afford a 10-year KSBP implementation cost of more than $6 million,

n the district can't ensure the KSBP system will reach a steady state,

n the alternative compensation plan can't be part of the salary schedule without financial controls and

n that an alternative compensation/career advancement plan can't be solely based on the evaluation of skills and knowledge.

The School Board wants the KSBP committee to continue working on the plan and to look at the plans used by other districts across the country, board President Paula Stephenson said previously.

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