School Board candidates stress accountability

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School Board District 4

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Steamboat Springs School Board candidate Laura Anderson speaks to a crowd at Centennial Hall during Monday night's 2007 Election Forum sponsored by the Steamboat Pilot & Today and Steamboat tv18. Anderson is running against incumbent Jerry Kozatch for a seat in District 5.

Steamboat Springs School Board candidate Char Rusk defended her decision to abstain from voting for the August buyout of Donna Howell's contract, and she said the board was justified in cutting ties with the former superintendent.

"While I abstained from the vote on Donna's contract, I do believe that positive results are being seen due to an improved, trusting cooperative relationship in the district," Rusk said Monday night during a candidates forum hosted by the Steamboat Pilot & Today and Steamboat tv18.

Rusk, who was appointed in June to fill the District 4 seat vacated when former board member Pat Gleason resigned, said she was not involved in any of the mediations or facilitations between the board and Howell.

"But I do recognize the problem was created by a previous board that resulted in a certain lack of accountability from the superintendent to the school board, along with the elimination of motivation to work as a team to improve the district," said Rusk, who stressed that Howell's four-year contract enabled the superintendent to avoid accountability.

She said accountability has been restored to the position with the hiring of interim superintendent Sandra Smyser.

"We are now accomplishing district business - all-day kindergarten, career development and construction projects -without the animosity that was created by the superintendent conflict and other outside influences," Rusk said.

Rusk's challenger, Robin Crossan, did not address Howell's buyout Monday night, but she praised the current board's efforts to implement all-day kindergarten, build a new Soda Creek Elementary School and expand Strawberry Park Elementary School.

Crossan, who discussed a variety of topics, such as fiscal responsibility, building relationships between the board and the community and the need for an all-day kindergarten program, said she would always put children ahead of personal interests.

"I will work to engage the community to listen to all sides of the issues, and I will communicate and be held responsible for all decisions the School Board makes," she said.

School Board candidate Laura Anderson, who is challenging Jerry Kozatch for the District 5 seat, said she was disappointed in the board's decision to "fire" Howell.

"The timing of the board's decision in August to fire the superintendent was a great concern to me," Anderson said. "With 'Camp Soda Creek' still under construction, and two weeks before school was to start for 2,000 students, the district was without leadership. This was not done in the best interest of our students."

District 2 candidate Lisa Brown, who is running unopposed, also brought up the superintendent issue.

"The actions of the current board, including the firing of a superintendent without cause and conducting an internal investigation into the release of e-mails, have neither been favored nor endorsed by the community," she said. "I hope as we move into the future, all school board members are better prepared to consider the consequences and cost of actions before they are taken."

Anderson said despite her displeasure with the board's handling of Howell, her campaign is focused on issues facing the board, not those from the past.

"We now have an interim superintendent in Dr. Smyser, and it's time to look to the future to set goals, articulate curriculum, finish construction projects as we strive to be one of the best school district's in the state," she said.

Kozatch stressed the need for the board to look at pressing issues, such as the district's dropout rate.

"In Steamboat, the dropout rate is approximately 10 percent, which is way below the national average, but otherwise unacceptable," he said. "I would hope we can reduce our dropout rate by 20 percent this school year. We need to identify struggling teens at an earlier age and provide for them the tools and environment to succeed."

- To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail mmccollum@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

bikegirl 7 years, 2 months ago

Dimwit-go back a few years,He didn"t support it.

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beagle 7 years, 2 months ago

Did Lisa Brown conduct a poll of the community that I'm not aware of? Before she speaks for the community, perhaps she should consider that she may not know what everyone else thinks. Personally, I do favor the board conducting an investigation into the unlawful release of any sensitive school information, and I don't think the superintendent was "fired without cause." Read the investigation transcripts and the superintendent evaluations.

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untamedShrewd 7 years, 2 months ago

Societal change can only occur with personal change. And personal change can only develop through individuals sharing their opinions and having their opinions tested by others. In other words, change is impossible without a BOE that has open dialogue with the community. My hope is that the new BOE will be a catalyst for enlightenment and a precursor for real change. Sharing opinions, opening minds, and settle in for a good discussions. No more behind the door meetings and unprofessional emails. I'm a big kid who can handle the truth and rationalize what is and isn't justified. The BOE should be open...no more of old BOE only sharing with the community what they beleive we want to here or to protect us from what they contrive as the truth. Time for a new BOE that examplifies open dialogue.

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untamedShrewd 7 years, 2 months ago

oops...so i had a few grammatical errors. Needed to delete "a" from "good discussions" and replace "here" with hear. The truth of the matter is, I can recognize my mistakes and face up to them instead trying to convince all that these errors are correct.

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bikegirl 7 years, 2 months ago

Take note of the article about The North Routt Charter School,and thier Kindergarten program,Dr,Howell was a strong supporter of this school,Dr.D was not.Hopefully a new BOE will restore some balance and reason.

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dimwitiguess 7 years, 2 months ago

Bikegirl, I live in North Routt. Dr. D. supported the charter and always has. He is one of only two board members who has visited our school. You don't know what you are talking about. So don't just say things that aren't true. Those are called lies by most people, but what do I know, I'm just a dimwitiguess.

You and PS must be having a bad year. You do nothing but complain and you sound like a broken record. Since that phrase may sound out dated, you sound like two crotchety old gossips. Since that may sound dated, you sound like chumps? SInce that might be outdated, you sound like two junior high girls who are angry about their pimple problems.

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autumnwitch 7 years, 2 months ago

Jerry, do you even read the reports supplied to you by the district? Where in the world do you come up with a drop-out rate of 10%? The annual report does not support that number. http://www.sssd.k12.co.us/common/content.asp?PAGE=290 You are saying that of the approximately 650 kids at the high school, 65 are dropping out? What?!!!

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autumnwitch 7 years, 2 months ago

More than one person has said so, (what bikegirl said)probably supportable in the board minutes from when they were trying to get the charter going, if anyone bothered to look that is. Open records and all...

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dimwitiguess 7 years, 2 months ago

Bikegirl, You are wrong. He always supported it. He supported it when Cindy Gantick was the first teacher. He also supported a small school in the North Routt area before we even thought charter. He told us that he understood the long ride to and from school and the effects on our children and home lives. He thought a small building could support students and still be a part of the district BEFORE discussions ever began for a charter. I don't know where you're getting your facts - probably from Cyndy Simms. Simms did not support our bid for a charter. Dr. D. did, and told Simms and us that. Another reason for his problems with her.

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Vigilant 7 years, 2 months ago

"But I do recognize the problem was created by a previous board that resulted in a certain lack of accountability from the superintendent to the school board, along with the elimination of motivation to work as a team to improve the district," said Rusk.

Why can't this BOE step up and take on a shred of responsibility for its decisions? Team means working together, it implies that there is a relationship, and there are at least two sides to any relationship. If you read the Superintendent evaluation and the documentation supporting it, this Board lays 100% blame for a dysfunctional relationship, a "toxic environment" squarely on the shoulders of the Superintendent, every bit of bad press, legal fees, email investigation, the recall effort, the termination, etc. All created by some previous Board, the Superintendent, anyone but the current Board members. Not saying that Howell was perfect, but the members of this Board must share at least a portion of the toxicity, and they have not. Troeger has had the goal of removing Donna Howell since he was elected, the same with DeVincentis, and together they got it done.

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snoman 7 years, 2 months ago

Vigilant, This BOE did take responsibility. That's why they spent months and much effort trying to work through mediation to get to a better working relationship with the Supt. But it apparently didn't work out. Further the people elect the BOE and then the BOE hires a superintendent, usually on a year to year basis so that if irreconcialable differences occur they can make a change. That was not within the ability of this BOE to do so they were forced to execute provisions of a contract left for them by a previous Board. I believe that this Board has the best interests of the children in mind. It seems to me that the previous BOE had the best interests of their own "legacy" in mind.

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