Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs School District officials will likely not hire an interim superintendent for at least the next two weeks.
Denise Connelly, president of the Steamboat Springs School Board, said Monday that six people have "expressed interest" in the interim superintendent position, but the first interview may not occur until Friday, and the hiring process will extend well into next week, if not beyond. An interim superintendent will lead the school district until a permanent superintendent is hired, after a nationwide search process that could last much of the upcoming school year.
On Aug. 10, the School Board voted to buy out the remaining two years of former superintendent Donna Howell's contract, paying Howell $270,000 in exchange for her resignation, which was effective immediately.
During a School Board meeting Monday night at Steamboat Springs High School, board members discussed criteria they are looking for in interim candidates.
School Board member John DeVincentis said he wants somebody who has a "crisis management background" and can help mend the school district, which has been torn by recent events including Howell's resignation and an unsuccessful effort to recall DeVincentis from the School Board.
"To me, it's very important that we bring everybody back together again," DeVincentis said. "There's been a lot of friction, but I hope it's repairable."
Other School Board members cited a need for building expertise, given the several construction projects the School District is undertaking.
Tim Bishop, Steamboat Springs Middle School principal, told the School Board that taking a little extra time to find the right interim candidate would prove invaluable in the upcoming school year, especially given the expertise and professionalism of the school district's administrators.
"We are all very focused on our buildings right now," Bishop said of school staff. "We can move and go on our own. We don't need someone there right now - we need the right person, in however many days it takes."
Connelly said she heard a strong direction from school staff to consider candidates carefully.
"I think what we heard tonight is that maybe we don't want to rush it," Connelly said of the interim superintendent search.
Also Monday, the School Board finalized plans to postpone construction of renovations to the middle school, choosing instead to focus on building the new Soda Creek Elementary School and expanding Strawberry Park Elementary School.
The Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board, which administers the city's half-cent sales tax for education, gave the school district $1.25 million to help fund a 5,000-square-foot middle school addition. The project would expand the school's entrance and move administrative offices for security and safety reasons.
But Todd Ficken, the district's owner's representative for its four construction projects, told board members the cost of the middle school project has more than doubled - from $1.25 million to $2.6 million - in the two years since it was first budgeted by contractor Haselden Construction.
The School Board voted unanimously to postpone the middle school project indefinitely while searching for other funding sources and possible temporary security measures.
The project has been planned and partially worked on since at least 2005.
"My frustration is that two-plus years later, we are still sitting here having these conversations," Bishop said. "My hope is that we can find the money somewhere else. : I received some hope tonight."
Bishop said staff and students at the middle school are accustomed to the challenges of conducting education amidst an ongoing construction project.
"We lived through last winter with our doors like this," he said. "And the winter before that."
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