District, School Board eager to put controversy in the past

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The temporary Soda Creek Facility is one of the capital improvement projects currently in progress in the Steamboat Springs School District. With recent distractions, including an attempted recall of board member John DeVincentis, behind it, the school district seems determined to move on and focus on future projects.

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The temporary Soda Creek Facility is one of the capital improvement projects currently in progress in the Steamboat Springs School District. With recent distractions, including an attempted recall of board member John DeVincentis, behind it the school district seems determined to move on and focus on future projects.

photo

The temporary Soda Creek Facility is one of the capital improvement projects currently in progress in the Steamboat Springs School District. With recent distractions, including an attempted recall of board member John DeVincentis, behind it, the school district seems determined to move on and focus on future projects.

— With a recall effort apparently finished and an internal investigation complete, the Steamboat Springs School Board and district officials say they are eager to return their full attention to the business of education.

Superintendent Donna Howell said Monday that despite the distractions caused by the public release of controversial e-mails by board member John DeVincentis, the district has continued to move forward with a variety of projects.

"We have a lot on our plate, but it's an exciting time," she said. "In terms of the building projects, in terms of the new staff we have hired, it just compliments the excellent staff we currently have."

Howell said the district is focused on three areas - capital improvement projects, developing a curriculum for all grade levels and welcoming three new members to the administrative team.

"But what is most time-sensitive is getting the (temporary Soda Creek Elementary School) facility ready in time for August," she said.

A new Soda Creek school will begin to rise from the ground later this summer, but the temporary school, which has been dubbed "Camp Soda Creek," must be ready to accommodate more than 400 students in five weeks.

Dale Mellor, the district's director of finance and operations, said the project is more than two weeks ahead of schedule, but noted that a variety of problems may pop up to curb the building process.

The temporary facility, made up of 15 mobile classrooms, is under construction in the field adjacent to the George P. Sauer Human Services Center. Mellor said four classrooms remain to be delivered and that renovation work to the Human Services Center is on schedule.

"School will definitely be open on schedule," he said.

Howell said she'll host an open house for parents and community members once the temporary facility is complete.

"With that open house, we are going to send an invitation, via mail, to a number of community members who live around the school," she said. "Because we didn't have all the answers when we had a meeting awhile ago - in terms of what can be used as a playground, traffic and such - we are going to have some answers for them."

The district also plans to break ground soon on additions to Strawberry Park Elementary School and Steamboat Springs Middle School.

Curriculum development

JoAnne Hilton-Gabeler was hired in June to fill the director of curriculum and instruction position.

"When she comes online we really have to take a look at our progress to date on the development of our K-12 articulated curriculum," said Howell, who noted that Hilton-Gabeler's responsibilities include developing curriculum for all grade levels and subject areas, managing the district's gifted and talented program, and administering and overseeing the Colorado Student Assessment Program tests. Her responsibilities also include supervising the district's four Instructional Support Specialists.

"What we want to do for the upcoming year is redefine the job description of the Instructional Support Specialists to have a greater emphasis on coaching at the schools, coaching teachers on the delivery of instruction," Howell said.

New administrators

In addition to Hilton-Gabeler, two other new administrators will join the district this fall. New Strawberry Park Principal Brenda Smith Barr was hired earlier this summer to replace Mark MacHale, and the district continues to search for a new grant writer.

"We are going to have a lot of transition with the new staff, and we very excited to have them on board," Howell said.

Hilton-Gabeler and Barr will begin full-time duties in August, but Howell said both administrators already have begun working in some capacity.

Hilton-Gabeler, "along with several of the Instructional Support Specialists, are all at a national development staff council for the next few days in Denver," she said. "And Brenda (Smith Barr) has been in and out of Steamboat this summer, and she'll soon be finalizing some positions left to be filled at Strawberry Park."

School Board member Jerry Kozatch said the board is excited about the many education-related projects in the works.

"We are all committed - those on the board - to continuing the work we are doing and trying to get all these huge projects going on," he said. "We have a new curriculum director, a new principal and we have a lot of new ideas to put into effect to make improvements in education and to do the best things for the students that we can."

Kozatch, along with board members Char Rusk and Jeff Troeger, are up for election in November. Troeger confirmed Monday he intends to run for re-election, and said he hopes the recall petition failure puts an end to the DeVincentis controversy.

"We've got so many positives in the School District, and it's too bad (the controversy) took a lot of the board's, and the public's, attention," he said. "We have one of the highest-performing districts in the state, the half-cent sales tax, a better ability to attract and retain staff, and a new school building that it's too bad people got lost in an emotional issue."

Comments

bikegirl 7 years, 2 months ago

hey joe-i am noticing that when You have a different view,you need to "see the light" or seek counseling etc.etc..But when our school board members show anger or frustration they are somehow "forgiven".Oh, and by the way,I believe you have "seen the light"and for our kid's sake you are trying to make positve changes in our district.Thanks.

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Matthew7_1_5 7 years, 2 months ago

Steamboatjoe, you must have a lot of pent up anger. You seem to really have a problem with people who don't see things your way. Before you continue to criticize, I would suggest that you remember Jesus Christ who said, Oh, ye hypocrits. Turn to Christ or any man, Ghandi or some other who showed only love and accomplished more. It is sad to read all of your comments that show an angry, I assume, old man. If God is not the answer for you, I suggest you try counseling. Look within yourself and truly evaluate your place in life at this time. What can make you feel better about yourself? Often the anger we express is due to our unperfect past and our lack of accomplishments. Think of yourself as a good person and maybe that will help you overcome this downward spiral that you seem to be in. Christ says, "Let me light the way." Christ will forgive you, but first you must forgive yourself in order to be whole. Be content in knowing that you are a child of God. I'm going to say an extra prayer for you today to help you find the Way.

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SteamboatJoe 7 years, 2 months ago

I have seen the light! My anger has turned to fear that people like you and stillinsteamboat are sitting in judgement of others, scary.

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Matthew7_1_5 7 years, 2 months ago

Joe, you have nothing kind to say to anyone? Even now you make sarcastic statements. Please review your life. Do you not pray for your enemies? Rethink your choices. I am serious about your outlook on people. Only you know your reason for your angry comments. Open the door to life filled with more positive thoughts. No one is judging you, only you know what kind of person you are. But if you need help, please seek it. Each of us, including myself, has much to be thankful for. Please spend your hours as though they were your last. Imagine those words you speak were your last. Is that how you want to be remembered?

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stillinsteamboat 7 years, 2 months ago

Joe: instead of using your energy to get people on your bandwagon you are a magnet for anger and resentment. JOE:You keep making terribly hurtful personal attacks not just on John but against anyone who would dare to see things differently than you. You personally attacked me and my child,and said something about not attending BOE meetings. I haven't attended as many as I should but I continue to spend DOZENS of hours a month through the school year IN THE SCHOOLS as a volunteer. I suggest you do the same,as you probably read yesterday, they could use the help.

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