Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Dr. Howell's forced departure from the Steamboat Springs School District is an indication of a serious fissure in the system. The purpose of the Steamboat Springs School Board is clearly stated in its governing documents: The board sets district policy, evaluates how the superintendent implements those policies, and represents the citizens in the district. The Superintendent is charged with administering the operations of the schools.
Despite three daylong sessions by a facilitator explaining their function, the School Board still seems to be under the impression that they are running the schools and the superintendent better not get in their way.
The system as it is designed should work very well. The system as it is operating is a disaster. Everybody being in charge of everything doesn't seem to be working all that well.
Dr. D. has yet to craft any policies that will further his goals of teaching Spanish in the lower grades and reducing class sizes. Perhaps now that Donna is gone he intends to implement those changes by edict.
A Jeff Troeger quote from Friday's session: "This is our meeting and we'll decide how to handle the public comment." (For which he received a severe and well-deserved tongue lashing in a public comment.)
This does not represent a firm grasp by the board on the community's role in the district. Few, if any, question the quality of the Steamboat Springs School District. Could it be that the professionals have been doing their job over the years? Or has the current board rescued us from the brink of pending disaster (as board President Denise Connelly's statement implies)?
If the board intends to run the school district as its own personal fiefdom, they should say so. If not, they should set policy and evaluate the performance (not the personality) of the superintendent. That should leave them a lot of time to get out and listen to their whole constituency, not just some cabal of close friends and malcontents.
Larry L. Wissbeck