Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Steamboat Springs Sandra Smyser is the Steamboat Springs School District's new superintendent.
The School Board voted unanimously Sept. 12 to appoint Smyser to the position, and School Board President Denise Connelly said Smyser accepted the contract offer during the weekend. She is expected to start on or before Oct. 1.
"She had a lot of very positive energy in her interview," said Connelly, who explained Smyser has nine years experience as a superintendent in California.
"She talked a lot about working together - getting more input from the teachers to the principals, from the principals to the superintendent, and so on."
Connelly also praised Smyser's curriculum-building experience.
Smyser led the Las Virgenes Unified School District in California for two years before resigning in June. She previously was superintendent of the Carpinteria Unified School District near Summerland, Calif.
According to the Las Virgenes Web site, the district includes 14 schools and 12,200 students.
School Board member Jerry Kozatch said Smyser's experience in large, diverse districts could help her bring together district stakeholder groups in Steamboat.
"We are not as diverse, but we have plenty of groups that can communicate better," he said. "She is a very engaging individual, and I also hope she gets together with our other new administrators quickly, especially our new curriculum director."
Steamboat's superintendent position was vacated Aug. 10 when the School Board voted to buy out the remaining two years of former superintendent Donna Howell's contract. The School Board paid Howell $270,000 for her immediate resignation.
The other two finalists included Steamboat resident William Kennedy, a former superintendent in Norwich and Potsdam, N.Y.; and Dr. William Harner, the regional superintendent for the school district of Philadelphia.
Dale Mellor, the district's director of finance, has been acting superintendent for the past five weeks.
Smyser's base salary will be $102,353, which is prorated for 174 days of a 238-day work year. For a full work year, Smyser would have been paid about $140,000 - similar to Howell's base salary. Smyser's contract ends June 30, 2008.
Also included in Smyser's employment agreement is $16,484 in total benefits, which includes $4,011 for health and dental insurance, $338 in life insurance and $180 in life insurance. The district also will contribute $11,955 toward her Colorado Employees' Retirement Association Fund and $150 a month for transportation expenses.
Smyser will not be entitled to any paid vacation time, but the district advanced her 10 paid annual leave days, which she must repay if she leaves the district before the end of her contract.
Smyser is considered the district's interim superintendent, and it's expected the School Board will conduct a search for a permanent superintendent sometime in the near future - likely after November's School Board elections.
Connelly said Smyser has found housing in Steamboat.
"(Housing) was one of the things we were really concerned about," she said. "It's a bigger problem for our teachers and support staff, as opposed to our administrators, but it's not easy in Steamboat."