Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs School Board members made it clear that Superintendent Donna Howell's job is on the line heading into a special board meeting Friday.
The special meeting was announced Wednesday. The 8 a.m. meeting opens with an executive, or secret, session "for purposes of discussing a personnel matter involving the superintendent."
School Board President Denise Connelly would not rule out firing Howell.
"We are considering some options; she is considering some options," said Connelly when asked whether Howell would be fired Friday. "I think she would be the one to talk about what's happening next, rather than us. She has more of that leeway than we do as far as personnel matters."
Howell declined to comment Tuesday on her job status and she was unavailable for comment Wednesday to discuss Friday's secret session.
Board Member Jeff Troeger said Friday's meeting is a continuation of Tuesday's secret session, which also was a meeting to discuss Howell. Troeger said "your instincts are good" when asked if Friday's meeting might be the end of Howell's tenure as superintendent.
The School Board met Tuesday with the district's lawyer, Dick Lyons, for nearly two hours without Howell to discuss the superintendent prior to a policy governance workshop led by Jim Weigel.
Weigel, a training consultant with the Colorado Association of School Boards, said the School Board has clear choices.
"They can either wait the two years until (Howell's) contract is up, they can fire her and pay her off, or three, they can fire and prepare for a lawsuit," said Weigel, who has worked with the board and Howell in recent months to review the district's model of policy governance, particularly how it relates to the roles of the board and superintendent. Weigel attended Tuesday's School Board workshop but was not part of the executive session with board members.
During a break in the executive session, Connelly excused herself and was asked by Weigel how the board was proceeding with Howell. She said they were "weighing pros and cons."
"They need to look at how the district has performed to evaluate a superintendent," Weigel said. "If the district is meeting their expectations, then the superintendent is performing well. All the other personal things about the superintendent don't matter. Obviously, for (the School Board), it still does."
Weigel cautioned replacing Howell would be hindered by the School Board's treatment of the superintendent.
"The way you treat whoever your current superintendent is affects who will be your next one - it's a real tight community among superintendents," he said.
"They have to get through whatever emotional thoughts they have with Donna (Howell) and the superintendent (position) in general. Things are going to happen, things are going to appear as one way versus another, but you have to move on. I don't know too many perfect superintendents."
Ann Muhme, the district's assistant to the superintendent, said she, along with other administrative team members, plan to attend Friday's meeting.
"We don't know what's going to happen, but we want to be there," said Muhme, who noted she didn't know the number of administrators who plan on attending the executive session.
Connelly would not comment on why the board planned an executive session for Friday when an executive session could have been held during Monday's regularly scheduled School Board meeting.
"I don't know how urgent it is," she said. "We wanted to make sure we did get the meeting announced. We can always get it canceled if things don't come about that we need to talk about."
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