School board vacancy
The Steamboat Springs School Board still is looking for someone to fill the vacancy created by Pat Gleason's resignation.
Gleason represented District 4, and the new board member has to live within the District 4 boundaries. A map of the district's board boundaries is available at www.sssd.k12.co.us through the School Board link.
The deadline to fill the position was May 24, but the district has received no letters of interest. Extending the deadline is on the agenda for the School Board's June 4 study session. Letters of interest can be sent to the Steamboat Springs School District offices at 325 Seventh St.
The new board member's term will expire in November, when he or she would have to seek election by the voters.
Steamboat Springs Recent workshops aimed at reviewing how the Steamboat Springs School District uses policy governance could help resolve instances of miscommunication and distrust, officials said.
Jim Weigel, a training consultant with the Colorado Association of School Boards, has led multiple workshops for the School Board and Superintendent Donna Howell reviewing policy governance and how to best implement it in the school district. The most recent workshop was May 23.
Policy governance is a model for administration that defines roles and responsibilities for the School Board, the superintendent and other stakeholders. The school district instituted policy governance nine years ago, but it never was fully implemented, Howell and School Board President Denise Connelly said.
The workshops have been "worthwhile, and it will clear up a lot of miscommunication and mistrust," Connelly said. "A lot of the mistrust has come from lack of communication - not being told what the concerns are and what's going on."
Missing within the previous policy governance process in the district were communication pieces for all stakeholders, including ways for parents and staff to communicate to Howell and the School Board, as well as monitoring methods for the School Board to evaluate the superintendent, Connelly said.
The School Board and Howell have had a rocky relationship during the past few months, and that relationship lies at the heart of the recent discussions.
"This has been very productive because it's leading to a real clarification," she said. "The first facilitation we had in the fall, basically, we were just expressing our frustrations with knowing our roles and responsibilities."
Now, Connelly said, those roles and responsibilities are more clearly defined. Essentially, she said, the School Board is more concerned with policy administration and district results. The School Board will focus less on how the district gets the results, leaving the "how" to Howell and district staff.
Revisions to policies have been board-directed.
"They are developed to reflect the desires of the board," Howell said. "They also provide clearer direction to the superintendent in terms of carrying out the policies."
The School Board has reviewed - and revised, when necessary - dozens of policies specifically related to the governance process, executive limitations and the board/superintendent relationship.
The School Board would like to outline what Howell and future superintendents cannot do within the realm of ethics and legalities.
"Anything beyond that - how she gets to those results without violating policies - is more open," Connelly said. "We are entrusting Donna with making a lot of decisions, but within limitations."
The School Board did add some important language to its policies, Connelly said. "We did want to add that 'the superintendent may not retaliate or discriminate for non-disruptive expression of dissent.'"
Connelly added that those rules applied to other administrators and should flow throughout the district. It was language not previously written into district policy.
The School Board plans to talk to, listen to and engage the community to see what its concerns are and what Steamboat residents feel the results of the school district should be.
"All the communication has to happen at all those levels," Connelly said.