Howell leaving district

Superintendent, board agree on contract buyout

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Howell leaves district

Steamboat Springs Superintendent Donna Howell discusses her four-year career with the school district.

Steamboat Springs Superintendent Donna Howell discusses her four-year career with the school district.

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  • — Donna Howell's tenure as the superintendent of the Steamboat Springs School District ended Friday afternoon as she and the School Board reached agreement on a contract buyout.

    In exchange for her resignation, the district will pay Howell $270,000, slightly less than the $300,000 she would have earned in salary and benefits from serving out the remaining two years on her contract. Howell's resignation is effective immediately.

    Board President Denise Connelly said the buyout was necessary because of differences that had developed between the board and superintendent over the past year. Connelly said those differences had distracted the board from other business.

    Finance Director Dale Mellor will be responsible for the superintendent functions. She said the board would begin the process of finding an interim superintendent next week. The board is scheduled to meet Monday.

    The School Board met in executive or secret session three times Friday to consider Howell's employment. The first meeting began at 8 a.m. After an hour of talking behind closed doors, the board emerged and took public comment. More than 50 people gathered at Centennial Hall for the morning meeting to watch the proceedings, and more than a dozen of them spoke in favor of retaining Howell during the public comment period. No one spoke in favor of dismissing Howell.

    The board then went back into secret session before coming out at 10:30 a.m. The board announced that the meeting would be reconvened at 3 p.m. In the afternoon, the board again went into secret session before coming out again just before 4 p.m. The board voted 4-0 to accept Howell's resignation. Board Member Char Rusk abstained, saying she has not been on the board long enough to make the decision.

    Howell was hired in the fall of 2003. None of the current board members were on the board when she was hired. Board member Jeff Troeger was on the board when she was given a 4-year contract in April 2005, but Troeger opposed that contract extension.

    Comments

    bcpow 6 years, 8 months ago

    270 K to walk away. How do I get one of those deals? And correct me if I'm wrong... is the performance of the district on the decline? It really does make sense to be paying for 2 sups until 2009. Hell, lets put in metal detectors at the high school with the 30 thousand we get to keep.

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    bikegirl 6 years, 8 months ago

    While Donna spoke today with Grace and dignity,I watched a smug and satisfied board member actually smirking.I am disgusted .Donna has been a leader with vision and true caring for our district.I am saddened and disappointed in our our board I will miss Donna and wish her well.

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    steamvent 6 years, 8 months ago

    How is it in a community that likes to think of itself as highly intelligent and sophisticated with parades of social strutting like Strings in the Mountains and the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, among others, we have a school system who's leadership is in such disarray and providing such a pathetic example for its students?

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    boatski 6 years, 8 months ago

    "buyout was necessary because of differences that had developed between the board and superintendent over the past year"

    The board should go, it would have cost a lot less, what a waste of the tax payers money!

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    mom 6 years, 8 months ago

    Time for a fresh start. Only hope the next super actually cares about the students and staff....the last one did not. Change is good.

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    bikegirl 6 years, 8 months ago

    mom-I am a staff member and a parent of a student-She cares about both.

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    Chris Elliott 6 years, 8 months ago

    Bikergirl, I to am a staff member and a mom of kids in the district, and I totally agree with you. What happened today was disgusting. Donna, although not perfect, certainly had the kids as the central focus of everything she did. For Connelly to say that there were no personal issues at play in reaching their decision was a joke. Doesn't the board work for the community? Did they not get the message this morning that the community wanted Donna to stay? Now we have a finance director running the district!

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    bikegirl 6 years, 8 months ago

    forthekids-The real shame is that divisions run deep.Yes,we will all be professional and do our jobs for the kids,we always do.I am so stunned by our board's actions today,they clearly were'nt listening to the community they have been elected to serve.Now we have staff feeling angry and betrayed,we still have to deal with John D's behaviors{trust me,we will see more}and trust is broken on many levels.This whole situation is just disgusting.

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    Susie Gruben 6 years, 8 months ago

    I attended the board meeting today to hear the public comments made. NOT ONE person said that they wanted to see Donna Howell fired. Every person said positive things about Donna Howell referencing her integrity and honor in the face of a disgusting situation. Centennial Hall was full of people who supported and applauded each public comment. Therefore, I am speechless. How can our elected officials choose to do what we as a community did not want done? Are they not here to represent us? What people did say is that the problems/conflicts lie with the individuals on the board, and that maybe they should resign if they can't resolve them. I agree with that wholeheartedly! We are now 2 weeks out from the beginning of the school year without a superintendent. Oh, but I am sure that Dale Mellor will really be able to fill Donna's shoes and do his own job. (notice the sarcasm). I lost faith today in our political process even in our small community. I had already lost respect for it as a nation, but thought that "the second friendliest community in the USA" could make it work. The only two words that can really express my sentiment right now are...UTTER DISGUST!

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    tony0327 6 years, 8 months ago

    I have been looking to moving to Steamboat and reading the Steamboat Pilot for some time. I am shocked to have read how this school board situation has played out. Before this I had always thought of Steamboat as a highly intelligent and sophisticated community and I looked forward to visiting every year. To let one vicious person on the school board undermind a school and community for what seems to be his own personal vendetta makes me wonder how deep the corruption goes. I think the entire school board should be fired for the sake of teaching your children true morals and values. It sounds like you put a fox in charge of the hen house.

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    sickofitall 6 years, 8 months ago

    What the heck is a difference? sheesh How many school scandals are out there? Board members...get a life!

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    ras 6 years, 8 months ago

    As a school district employee who attended the school board meeting this morning, I feel a great loss personally and for the district. The school board were the only 5 people in town who wanted Donna gone. Almost every employee in the district wanted her here for as many years as she could give us. From Administrators to support staff, we are all feeling like there has been a death in our family. Morale is at an all time low for beginning a school year. Its like being on a ship with no one steering the boat. Donna was fantastic and worth every penny she got. What makes this all so ironic is that the board just gave away $270,000 because the didn't like her. Then the same board will wiggle in their seats during salary negotiations about giving staff a 3 or 4 percent raise, wringing their hands about just not having the money available. Ironic that when we want to buy a new math or reading series, there isn't enough money in the budget to get all the materials we need. The board will now spend thousands more doing a nation wide search for our next victim, using a special employment consultant, then spend more flying candidate s here for interviews, What a joke? Please, lets just recall the whole board and start over. Could it get any worse in Steamboat Springs School District? I for one think King John got exactly what he wanted . Guess he'll be sliding over into the presidents chair next. Wake up Steamboat, take charge of your school district.

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    HighlandClover 6 years, 8 months ago

    Like many of the people posting today, I am terribly ashamed of and disappointed in our School Board. Our school board has been taking the lead by making him or herself rather disagreeable; therefore it is high time that we as a community show them that we will lead ourselves by not making ourselves an angry vicious lot. I have no reservation that John D has a superintendent in mind, and as a community we must band together and find a superintendent that we like and who likes our community. This may not be the way John D likes things run, but that should not be high on the school districts list of priorities. I hope that we will all work to take back our school district and our school board.

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    mom 6 years, 8 months ago

    I am a mother and district employee as well. It is funny to read some of these postings...we must work in very different departments. This is going to be a busy year with all the new changes, but I am up for it and welcome the changes.

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    ras 6 years, 8 months ago

    Now that we are done with Donna, do we ever get around to John D. using the school districts computer to send vicious and disgusting emails? Hasn't any noticed that he hasn't had to lose any sleep over what he did? Why is it that he hasn't had to answer to what he has done as a district employee, while Donna gets the ax?

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    housepoor 6 years, 8 months ago

    we all know who Dr D likes...................himself...............how could anyone meet his standards......he really need to go away............I know school boards were put in place for a reason, but com'on this is getting just down right embarassing.....they all should be ashamed!!!!!

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    mom 6 years, 8 months ago

    I guess this is more of those sour grapes I read about earlier.

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    HighlandClover 6 years, 8 months ago

    Honey, just remember, you are supporting a man who sees nothing wrong with what he did. If that is how you conduct your life and your childrens lives, then I pity the world you create for yourself. You must really enjoy drama. Me? I really am here for the students. I knew John D personally, and really, he isn't there for you or your children. I just wish you could see it.

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    bikegirl 6 years, 8 months ago

    mom-or should I call you Pollyanna-Wake Up! John's got you snowed.

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    elk2 6 years, 8 months ago

    If you really think hard back to when this became a public mess think about the old board and the SOS and the Pilot releasing those emails that should have remained private. If they hadn't done that there may have been some friction between the board and Donna but it wouldn't have ended with her resignation. Thank the people who are really responsible for this mess. Also, there are many parents and teachers who didn't agree with Donna. They couldn't speak out at the meeting yesterday for fear of retribution.

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    cookie 6 years, 8 months ago

    Retribution? That is was John De Vindictive is all about. The courageous people stood up and spoke yesterday. Dr. D wrote down the name of everyone who spoke!

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    bikegirl 6 years, 8 months ago

    If any other staff member had fired off scathing emails,as did John,they would have been fired,or asked to resign.Again,the public has a right to know what sort of people work in the district.Of course not everyone agrees with Donna,not everyone agrees with John either.As far as retribution,John D.is an expert in that area.Donna left gracefully.That's the difference.

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    wissbecklarry 6 years, 8 months ago

    I can scarcely believe that the SSSD is going to improve with Dr. H's departure. We'll almost certainly experience months of turmoil, doubt, lateral drift, and delayed decisions.

    But that aside....I heard a "hallway" conversation while at the meeting on Friday. The new editor of the Pilot & Today is seriously considering a ban on anonymous posts in this space. And I would hope he does. I'll bet the discourse would be more civil and reasoned if posters identify themselves. (Though that didn't work with Dr. D's emails, did it?)

    Anyway, my name is Larry L. Wissbeck and I am a minor employee of the SSSD.

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    mom 6 years, 8 months ago

    Thanks but no thanks. Keep your pity for your own pity party. Oh, and sticks and stones to any name calling and rudeness. I agree many staff members did not speak up because of retribution. And as far as the drama goes, you can try to create more drama as it seems YOU like to do:.I will be preparing for the new school year with a smile. Have a lovely day!

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    Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 8 months ago

    Larry- That didn't work for D's emails since it was what he and the Mercer teacher considered to be a private conversation, no matter what the policy stated. Their idiocy in that respect, but they did sign their names to it. More balls than most people on this forum, whether you agree with what they signed their names to or not.

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    autumnwitch 6 years, 8 months ago

    John already was at work dividing the board and Donna before the e-mails were released. It would have happened sooner or later anyway. And Jeff was ticked because she wouldn't apologize for something that didn't require one in the first place, about the admin surveys. These two had it in for her long ago. The people spoke but it fell on deaf ears due to one-track minded, bully in the sandbox mentality. Hopefully this will be a lesson to people when it comes to voting in the future. Pay attention to who the candidates are and what their backgrounds are, go to debates and ask questions. Don't vote for employees, recent ex-employees or people who have a member of their family as an employee of the district unless you can be sure they will act ETHICALLY and abstain from voting when it will financially benefit that board member. Go to the polls in November and let your voice be heard.

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    Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 8 months ago

    Autumnwitch- So, one of Howell's first acts as Superintendent was to fish thru D's computer for stuff she later admitted she could have found in the main server in Accounting. Does that mean she immediately had it in for D? (That was just 1 reason that was debunked.)

    Also, you are right: the people spoke and rejected the recall, and hopefully it will be a lesson. That lesson would be to fill out your information correct.

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    autumnwitch 6 years, 8 months ago

    I cannot argue with your second paragraph Matt, it was definitely a learning experience, and I hope, that should this come up again, others will have learned from our mistakes and pay better attention.

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    sportzmama 6 years, 8 months ago

    All I have to say is that the next Super. better be a male as it's pretty obvious that Dr. D. has an issue with women in a position of power. I'm ashamed of the way the Board has acted - especially since all public comment was in favor of retaining Dr. Howell - PUBLIC - wake up - these people are acting on YOUR behalf........ well probably not.

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