Steamboat Springs A lot was said recently about the Steamboat Springs School Board and member John DeVincentis, which created a flurry of press in the Steamboat Pilot & Today newspaper. Uninvolved, unaware readers who followed the story were given eyebrow-raising excerpts from a private e-mail secretly leaked by an individual later revealed to be a disgruntled board member who resigned in order to be able to betray the public trust anonymously as an ordinary citizen.
But the real issue is not the e-mails, but the questionable tactics of former board members who are unhappy that the current School Board may not continue with policies that these former board members favored.
The people of this community deserve to be told the story behind the publication of the e-mails. If the reporter and her editor had presented the "rest of the story" the coverage would have reflected much more than questionable behavior on the part of one board member two years ago. Stories abound about the rancorous disagreement with the newer board members who proposed fiscal changes to the old policies and who ultimately came to outnumber the old guard who supported the administrations of superintendents Cyndy Sims and Donna Howell.
This battle raged around the concept that school administrators, including the Superintendent, the school principals, foodservice and curriculum coordinators needed to be held accountable for their high salaries in a budget where our teachers as a group received lower than average pay among their peers statewide. Rather than publicly debate the merits of these issues (e.g. better pay for teachers versus an inflated administration), they decided to "leak" the e-mails to the newspaper and thus try to undermine DeVincentis and anyone else who opposed their views. This only served to take away the focus from the real issues.
An impartial look at the leaders of the two factions struggling for control of the Steamboat Springs Re-2 District School Board is in order here. The old guard against the new:
SOS RE2 Committee: Tom Miller-Freutel, past School Board president; Pat Gleason, past board member; Paula Stephenson, past board president; Paula Cooper-Black, past City Council member; and Jim Gill, past School Board and Education Fund Board president.
Members of the School Board: Denise Connelly, president; Jeffrey Troeger, member; John DeVincentis, member; and Jerry Kozatch, member.
As responsible citizens of this community, we are calling for the true facts to be presented in the papers in order to make a reasonable judgment about the future of our schools: The former board members served lengthy terms but they are former board members. We elected the current board on a platform of change - especially accountability throughout the system and better communication between the schools and parents.
As always, it's the old guard trying to hold onto control-control they no longer have the authority or mandate to exercise. Let's let the current board do its job. The SOS people have had their opportunity and it is time for healthy changes to be made.
Jan van Straaten, Bette Van Dahl, Mike Johnson, Kelly Wilson, Scott Crouch, Sandi Crouch, Tania Coffey