District searches for new principal

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The Hayden School Board unanimously accepted Hayden High School Principal Nick Schafer's resignation at its June 16 meeting and is moving ahead to hire his replacement.

There was little discussion of the issue, which was the focus of a special board meeting earlier this month as well as several parent forums organized to discuss the district's direction in light of negative rumors circulating since Schafer resigned May 27.

As of Monday, the district had received nine applications for the principal position. Seven of the applicants live in Colorado and two are from out of state, Superintendent Scott Mader said.

He did not know whether any applicants were from within the district.

Although the application deadline was Monday, the district will continue accepting applications until Friday because of a misprint in an advertisement.

That shouldn't push back the hiring process, which will continue with the screening of applicants Thursday and interviews June 30 through July 5. The screening and interview committee -- comprised of two board members, two parents, two teachers, one principal and one student -- hopes to recommend a final candidate to the School Board on July 7, Mader said.

At the School Board meeting, Hayden Middle School literacy teacher Gina Zabel stressed the need for positive change in the district while reporting on the Professional Learning Institute conference, which she attended earlier this month with science teacher Mari Mahanna, social studies teacher Vicky Trousdale and history teacher Ty Zabel.

The conference, based on concepts developed by author and educator Richard DuFour, encouraged teachers to work together to assess students and apply achievement goals.

Schafer and Hayden Middle School Principal Colleen Poole arranged for the teachers to attend the conference in Las Vegas. Gina Zabel emphasized that Schafer's goals, reflected through the DuFour concept, must continue despite his departure.

"One of our largest concerns is part of that leadership link is gone. ... We want to make sure that we can continue to move in that direction," she said.

Gina Zabel encouraged board members and the superintendent to attend another DuFour seminar planned for July 12 through 14 in Aurora.

Board secretary Patty Bruchez questioned whether the DuFour philosophy could remedy the district's problems when programs already in place, such as school improvement teams, have failed as effective avenues for change.

"Communication breakdown has been the problem," she said later. "Whether Richard DuFour can fix that, I don't know."

Also at the meeting, Ann Willingham informed board members of issues discussed during a parent forum June 15.

Better enforcement of school dress codes and a request for more information about mediation sessions between Mader and the district's three principals earlier this year were among parents' concerns, she said.

Willingham also suggested the School Board meet with teachers every two months to proactively approach potential problems.

"One of our concerns is we don't want to lose any more staff if there's any unrest going on," she said.

In other business:

n Hayden Valley Elementary School Principal Mike Luppes reported that he was gauging parents' interest in an all-day kindergarten program. Parents have until the end of June to put down a deposit for the proposed program.

n The board approved the accreditation of Hayden schools based board members' and Mader's visits with principals. Administrators determined the schools' goals were in line with state standards. The state requires all school districts have an accreditation procedure to ensure students perform at or above state averages on the Colorado Assessment Program testes.

n Board members adopted the 2004-05 fiscal year budget as well as a new literacy curriculum. They also agreed to hire a company to refurbish and paint the high school gym floor.

n The board accepted Mahanna's resignation from her position as the schools' health coordinator. The board also accepted the resignations of cyberschool coordinator Paul Van Horn and Hayden Middle School head girls basketball coach Michelle Wilkie.

n The board agreed to hire Ty Zabel as the head high school wrestling coach. Board members also approved a request to hire Ted Moss of Steamboat and Stephanie Davis of Grand Junction as full-time middle school math teachers. Bret Hoover of Nevada will be hired as the new literacy teacher at the middle school.

-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com

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