Hayden superintendent resigns

Luppes retires but will remain through 2007-08 school year


Parent asks board to make school free of peanuts

The Hayden School Board heard parent Tina Fry ask for help Wednesday in helping her daughter Makenzie Fry, a third-grader, be safe at school.

Recently, the Frys discovered Makenzie is severely allergic to peanuts, so much so that Makenzie has had six allergic reactions since discovering the allergy and all have come at school.

Perhaps the most severe was when Makenzie went into anaphylactic shock after eating a salad with sunflower seeds that had been processed with peanut oil.

Hayden district nurse Stacy Magee, Hayden Valley Elementary School administrators, cafeteria workers and Makenzie's class are acutely aware of her allergy and monitor what comes in and out of the classroom.

On Wednesday, the School Board cleared elementary principal Rhonda Sweetser to create a peanut-free zone in the cafeteria where all food at the table will be monitored to ensure Makenzie's safety.

The School Board also will be considering whether the district should become a peanut-free district in the future, which is what Tina Fry ultimately would like to see.

"We'll do the things we can and the things in our control," School Board President Brian Hoza told Tina Fry and middle school principal Gina Zabel, who told the board Wednesday that she also has a daughter allergic to peanuts.

— The Hayden administrative team generated most of the buzz at Wednesday's monthly School Board meeting.

Minutes after Rhonda Sweetser was hired as the Hayden Valley Elementary School principal and Gina Zabel was hired as the middle school principal, Superintendent Mike Luppes turned in his resignation letter to the board effective June 30.

But the board granted Luppes' request for a supplemental contract for the 2007-08 school year, which would enable Luppes to take advantage of Public Employees Retirement Association benefit where he would receive retirement payments from PERA while also being on the district payroll.

"Being (the superintendent) has taken me away from the things I really enjoy in education," Luppes said. "It's moved me away from the kids, the classrooms and more into the realm of the paperwork and policy writing and all the different things that I don't have a high passion for, and those are important parts of the job."

Although the School Board and the administrative team knew of Luppes' decision before Wednesday's meeting, the reality that his resignation was official was met with sadness.

"He has such a great vision for this district," said district business manager Jnl Linsacum. "He handles everything."

The resignation of former superintendent Scott Mader in 2004 created a vacancy that Luppes, the elementary school principal at the time, filled. Sweetser moved into a teacher/leader role, but could not officially be a principal because she did not hold a license.

She will receive her principal licensure from Western State College in May. Zabel, who will receive her principal licensure in May from Adams State College, filled a similar role to Sweetser in 2004 at the middle school.

Budget constraints and the timing of several resignations in 2004, which would have made the hiring process difficult, prompted the School Board to move to an administrative structure with one secondary principal - Troy Zabel - and a dual position for Luppes as superintendent and elementary principal.

Sweetser and Gina Zabel said they enjoy working with - and for - Luppes, so, although they are excited to be principals, there is an apprehensive sense of the unknown for the future with the departure of Luppes, Gina Zabel said.

"We work pretty well, the four of us together," Gina Zabel said. "We are so fortunate that everything runs so smoothly."

Troy Zabel will move over to the high school.

Luppes will receive $82,668 during next year's transition contract. Salaries for next year have not been finalized. Under present salary schedules, Sweetser and Gina Zabel make $57,643. Troy Zabel makes $68,048.


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