At the beginning of Monday night's meeting of the Steamboat Springs School Board, fifth-grade teacher Mike Johnson said: "At the classroom level, it feels like nothing has changed since the election of the new board."
Had he stuck around for the meeting's end, Johnson might have changed his mind.
School Board member John DeVincentis, elected to the board Nov. 1, emphatically argued Monday for increased input from district principals at board meetings, saying that previous School Boards have "placed principals in a box" and rarely asked for information from the on-site leaders of district schools.
"As a principal, I saw the limits on discussion (with the School Board)," said DeVincentis, a former principal of Strawberry Park Elementary School.
DeVincentis told board members that requests he made last week for items to be placed on Monday's agenda were ignored. He said that in e-mails he sent Jan. 2 and Jan. 5 to district Superintendent Donna Howell and all School Board members, he asked that all principals be present at Monday's meeting to talk about their class sizes, personnel needs and budgeting, and that the School Board hold an executive session at the meeting to discuss staffing issues.
"I want to see my agenda items on the agenda," DeVincentis said Monday, when those items were not scheduled for discussion.
Howell said that, according to board policy, she and board President Tom Miller-Freutel set the agenda for School Board meetings. She said DeVincentis' items were not included Monday because there was not time to discuss the requested items with DeVincentis beforehand, and because some of those items contained information that "might not be completely accurate."
District secretary Diane May released Monday's agenda on the morning of Jan. 5.
Howell also said that, as members of the district's leadership team, school principals constantly are in communication with other district administrators and staff, and also have a significant say in funding requests.
"The leadership team has been very involved in (formulating) recommendations for the Education Fund Board," Howell said.
In November, all district principals presented the School Board with a three-year School Improvement Plan that outlines achievement goals and planning for their schools.
DeVincentis expressed concern Monday that contract and salary negotiations for next year's district staff already have begun, without directly asking principals about specific staffing needs.
"When we don't even ask the question, that's a concern of mine," he said.
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