Steamboat Springs 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.