School Board approves policy changes

Board one step closer to allowing district employees to serve

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— The Steamboat Springs School Board moved one step closer Wednesday night to allowing current school district employees to serve on the board.

After a discussion of more than 30 minutes, the board agreed to move the policy change to a second reading. Approval on second reading would make the change final.

Board member Jerry Kozatch said he sees a possible conflict of interest in allowing employees to serve.

"I've had a couple members of the public express to me that this is a very bad idea," he said. "I see a theoretical conflict, and I think that if you look at a compromise and if you want to include substitutes or part-time, to go half-way in between, then I think that's reasonable."

School Board President Denise Connelly urged the board to adopt a defined policy and not risk the ambiguity of making exceptions to the rule. She said, because of conversations with Bud Romberg, who taught for one year during his eight-year term on the board, she thinks parents have more of a conflict of interest than teachers.

"The emotional attachment and experiences we have makes it very important for us as parents to make sure we do have that separation and do what's in the best interest of the district," she said. "The nature of the board is that one person does not have authority. The voters of the community are very savvy. I really feel it isn't up to us to restrict the pool."

Connelly said the policy was changed in 1999 to exclude district employees from the School Board. Exceptions have been made in the past to allow a School Board member to sub as a bus driver.

Board member Jeff Troeger echoed Connelly's suggestion to let voters decide whether a School Board candidate has a conflict of interest.

"I think we should just allow anyone who wants to run, let them run, and let the voters, if they feel strongly that employees should not belong on the board, to vote for the other person," he said. "I just don't like this idea of limiting the pool of people. If you look at what we have, we usually have difficulty finding people to volunteer for the School Board."

Also Wednesday, the School Board agreed to table changes to the board member's code of conduct policy because of a possible conflict with the board's process for addressing board member violations.

Kozatch questioned why the code of conduct instructs board members to not publicly make or express individual negative opinions about superintendent or staff performance, while the violations policy instructs the board to discuss in public session the conditions for possible censure.

"To officially censure, sure it should be in public, but you don't have to have the discussion of what do we do and why we should do it in public," he said. "If you are really concerned about public knowledge of every possible thing, then a private discussion should be in private, too."

Kozatch added the board, which is facing a possible recall petition for School Board member John DeVincentis, should be sensitive to bad publicity.

"If we are doing things that are going to cause us to have a bad public image that can be avoided, then that just doesn't make sense to me," he said.

The board also approved Char Rusk as a new board member representing District 4 seat, approved the district's 2007-08 budget, and recognized local attorney Paul Sachs as its 2007 Friend of Education.

Comments

puzzles 7 years, 3 months ago

This board always wants input from the stackholders before they can make a decision on anything. Why on this issue do they insist on forcing this through when it was obvious from the poll in the Pilot last week that the people of this community do not think that allowing employees to serve on the board of education is a good idea? Listen to the people of the community and do not change this policy.

Maybe they want it changed so Dr. D can become superintendent and have complete control of his kingdom?

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upriver 7 years, 3 months ago

Having the people you are responsible for overseeing be on the board overseeing them is a clear conflict of interest. This can be leveraged into taking control of the board away from the people it serves and is a very bad piece of governance legislation on the part of the board.

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Hammurabi 7 years, 3 months ago

If you feel that this is a conflict, you should get out and sign the recall petition. This recall is in the final days before the deadline and if you think that employees can also be employers and do so without a conflict, to say nothing of fairly representing the tax payers, you're wrong. We get the government we deserve, so participate NOW!

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elkwatch 7 years, 3 months ago

blah blah you SOSers are such a broken record. everyone knows the pilot poll is a crock. we voted for this board, not for you. Maybe you should go back to Doak Walker again to get the last of your signatures. you guys may get them, but we've all gotten to see who the biggest snakes in town are...

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 3 months ago

Hamm- How is the recall petition tied to the current situation? I figured that if the majority vote for a teacher to be on the board with the new change, the majority have spoken, correct? Does the recall petition specifically address this or is this a blind to throw up to see if more people will sign the petition? Gwendolyn showed her hand at the "ulterior motive"; has Hammurabi also?

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Hammurabi 7 years, 3 months ago

No, I haven't shown a particular hand. I just firmly believe in the democratic process. Signing a petition to place a recall issue on the ballot in November allows everyone to decide for himself or herself when they vote. Those who support the direction the current School Board can vote against the recall. Those who feel that the Board is headed in the wrong direction can vote for a change. I'm in favor of healthy civil debate on the issues followed by an election. I'm in favor of Democracy. I'm in favor of participation in the process, which seems to have served us well in the past. I'm in favor of people taking an interest in their community. I enjoy seeing citizens exercise their rights as it strengthens our community.

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 3 months ago

"the policy was changed in 1999 to exclude district employees from the School Board".... duh, you think it's possible there was a good reason for this? Naaah, the board just didn't have anything better to do at the time so they decided to change policy.

Do these people have someone in mind that they need to pave the way for?

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Sunnydays 7 years, 3 months ago

Hammurabi,

If you feel so strongly in the democratic process and believe in it as you say, then if an employee of the district runs for the school board, then that employee should be defeated if that is what the people believe or alternatively elected. You want it both ways, one way the recall process is the democratic process, the other way you want a rule that prevents employees from running for the school board because they might be elected. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. If the recall is democratic, then so is allowing employees to be judged by the community to determine if they are fit for the school board. Your position makes no sense, none...

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Sunspot 7 years, 3 months ago

The new board is fixing another old board mistake. The current policy discriminates against a large number of parents, taxpayers and knowledgeable people. I can see that if a majority of the board were teachers there would be a problem, but I doubt that the voters would let that take place. We mainly need a larger pool to choose from.

If the newspaper and the old boards continue to treat newer boards as badly as they have done recently, it will be harder and harder to find qualified people. Who would want to be their next target?

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Sunnydays 7 years, 3 months ago

I agree. This change increases the size of the pool by including people who understand education and not just pontification (i.e. the old board).

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elphaba 7 years, 3 months ago

Is it true that a current board member has applied for a job at the middle school?? What kind of fox in the henhouse is this?

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SteamboatJoe 7 years, 3 months ago

The target would be the next person who conducts a horrific smear campaign on a school computer and continues that agenda on the next superintendent.

The fair politics people are really coming out of the woodwork on this board. Maybe they are afraid if they don't turn the real issue (John's unethical behavior) into a bait and switch (old board is out to get new board), people will sign the petition.

John hung himself with those emails. End of story.

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beagle 7 years, 3 months ago

End of story to you, Joe. not everyone sees the e-mails that way - some people think the backstabbing actions (not just talk) of other people are even worse. I'm sure you'll manage to eke out your signatures, just don't think you're a big hero for it, you're not helping the district or the boat.

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SteamboatJoe 7 years, 3 months ago

Giving the community a chance to decide in November is all I want. I will support whatever the community decides.

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steamboatsconscience 7 years, 3 months ago

Joe "I will support whatever the community decides." Why do I have a problem believing that?

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titsikama 7 years, 3 months ago

Ham, Joe and JQ, We thought your recall was about Dr. D's behavior and has nothing to do with the current Board, it's policies or anything that the former Board supported. You told the public we were making that link up. Yet here you are asking people to sign a recall on a policy decision, not Dr. D's bad behavior. It is why we have stood up against you, not because we are "sheep" but becuase if you really cared about this community you would have handled things much differently. And you do have ulterior motives; that is clear as you manage to bring up the recall into every discussion of Board policies. Citizens is community driven as well (with Doctors, Lawyers, Business People, Teachers, Parents (but not current Board members as Joe aludes)etc...) and in the true democratic fasion we are asking the voters to look at the real motives behind the recall petition before they sign. Joe, you may believe this recall is just about Johns behavior, but clearly the leaders of this SOS group have other reasons in mind. Use of a public smear campaign to discredit someone becuase of their private "smear campaign" is an interesting tactic. Still awaitng my answer from questions on previous posts.

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autumnwitch 7 years, 3 months ago

So, we are going to allow teachers to be on the board and decide if they and their buddies get a raise as well as their bosses? Does that make sense? Duh!!! Do you really think they would do the right thing and not vote on the issue since it is a conflict of interest, just like John does, oh right he doesn't, when his wife's salary is at issue?

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