Howell, board to hash it out

Facilitator Ken Delay will conduct Tuesday meeting

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— 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."

-To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

another_local 7 years, 1 month ago

Who made Dr D the spokesman for the board? Does his AGENDA represent what the rest of the board thinks? I hope not.

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Hammurabi 7 years, 1 month ago

From day one Dr. D has been after Ms. Howell. It was his unspoken agenda when he ran. He is so vengeful and angry that nothing will stand in his way. Unfortunatley, it will come at the expense of the education of our children. You would think that the school board has bigger items to deal with, like the construction of a new school, but no, Dr. D will not be stopped in his pettiness.

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Troutscout 7 years, 1 month ago

Way to go Majority of the Board! Ms. Howell should be providing the leadership, not spending another $800 to $1,000.00 for a facilitator. She is being paid really big bucks, $144,000+ to provide that leadership. She should be the facilitator. If she can't communicate with the board on her own, then she has no place being the administrative head. Just the fact that an outside person has to be called shows we are not getting a good return for our money. The hand-writing is on the wall. The superintendent is hired by the board, if the board has lost confidence in the superintendent, for whatever reason, real or perceived, then it is time for a new leader. No one knows better the strength and weaknesses within a school district better than the people who work, or have worked, in that very district. We need to listen to those people.

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another_local 7 years, 1 month ago

144K is not a lot of money for a position with those responsibilities. In the private sector a position with that many people reporting up to it and that much $$ tied up in facilities and equipment to manage would pay a lot more.

Just because Dr D has an agenda does not mean the board has lost confidence in the superintendent.

Dr D was a good principal. He is proving to be a dismal school board member who is blinded by his own issues.

You are right about one thing though, the handwriting is on the wall; it is time for DrD to step down.

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Hammurabi 7 years, 1 month ago

Unfortunately, Dr. D will never step down and the other members of the board, except Mr. Gleason, are in lock step with Dr. D. It is micro management at it's worst, the possible exception would be the city council. It will be a loss for the educational system if Ms. Howell were to leave. However, I wonder how much intereference and personal attacks one person can take. We're seeing good people moving on right and left because this board is so difficult to deal with.

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