Steamboat Springs A facilitator will try to help the Steamboat Springs School Board and Superintendent Donna Howell hash out lingering differences during a meeting Tuesday.
The meeting tentatively is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. in the conference room of the First National Bank of the Rockies. Ken Delay, executive director with the Colorado Association of School Boards, will serve as the facilitator.
The school district has not released an agenda for the meeting.
Howell and most board members have not seen eye to eye on several issues in recent months. However, board members contacted Thursday said they expect Howell to complete the two years remaining on her contract and that there is no effort to remove her from the position.
Howell's salary is $144,229, according to a copy of her contract.
Howell said she hopes the meeting will produce clearly defined roles and responsibilities for board members and the superintendent.
"What I hope will come from good facilitated conversation is clarity in what is the role of the board, what is the role of the superintendent, and what is the appropriate communication protocol for the board to parents, with the community and with staff members," Howell said. "I think that is critical - to understand roles and responsibilities."
School Board member John DeVincentis said the facilitated conversation likely will last most of the day because there are a number of issues both sides want addressed.
DeVincentis said it is clear for anyone who has attended a School Board meeting that a majority of the current board members do not agree with Howell on several issues.
"I think the difference is that we want to know more about why decisions are made," DeVincentis said. "We want to have influence on how they are made, not necessarily that we make them, but how they are made. (With previous boards) the superintendent would come in and make a decision and it was a given. It's not anymore."
Howell is essentially working for a different employer than the one who hired her in 2003 and gave her a four-year contract in April 2005.
The board underwent a change in direction in November 2005 when Denise Connelly and DeVincentis, two former district employees, were elected.
In addition to Connelly and DeVincentis, board member Jerry Kozatch, who was appointed to the board in late October, also is a new member.
"We really need to get on the same page," Connelly said. "Donna has a strategic plan that really was approved by the former board, and I don't know if we really back all of that. We need to get going in the same direction."
Board members were careful to frame the facilitated discussion with Delay as an opportunity rather than an effort to salvage a fractured relationship.
Howell "has made a commitment to the board," Kozatch said. "And I think everyone on the board has made a commitment to keep working together for the good of the district. I would be very surprised if any other board member said something different."
The district will pay for Delay to drive to Steamboat and facilitate the discussion, which likely will cost $800 to $1,000.
Howell said she's looking forward to Tuesday's meeting.
"It's working toward building a cohesive leadership team," she said. "It's long overdue."
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