Steamboat Springs The contract of Steamboat Springs High School Principal Mike Knezevich might not be renewed for the next school year.
Knezevich called a staff meeting Wednesday morning at the high school and, according to two teachers at the meeting, said Steamboat Springs School District officials had asked him to resign. Knezevich told staff he did not plan to resign and said he had been given an opportunity to remediate his performance in some areas. He read a memo to all high school staff from Sandra Smyser, interim superintendent of the Steamboat Springs School District.
"I know that you are hearing rumors and are concerned about the status of your principal's job for next year," the memo stated. "At Monday night's (School) Board meeting, the board will be taking action on all principals' contracts. In order to allow for your comments, they will be starting at 5:30 and listening to comments."
Smyser invited high school staff to contact her and said she "would be open to talk to anyone who wants to talks to me."
Smyser and School Board member Denise Connelly said the finalized School Board agenda for Monday's meeting will be released Friday. Both said that agenda will include the renewal of administrator contracts.
Smyser said she will recommend to the School Board that the deadline for a decision on Knezevich's contract renewal be extended to June. Smyser said she is recommending renewals Monday night for Soda Creek Elementary School Principal Judy Harris, Strawberry Park Elementary School Principal Brenda Barr and Steamboat Springs Middle School Principal Tim Bishop.
Smyser would not elaborate on reasons for extending a decision on Knezevich's contract, calling it a personnel matter. Knezevich could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
"We usually do accept the recommendations of the superintendent," Connelly said of the School Board's process for contract renewal decisions.
Several teachers at the high school acknowledged that many teachers and staff have different viewpoints about the issue, and they expressed concerns about divisiveness.
"Everybody on our staff comes from different perspectives - we're not all going to agree on all issues," said biology and physical science teacher Cindy Gay. "But for the sake of our students and the sake of their achievement, we have to behave honorably, ethically and professionally towards our colleagues and towards our kids."
Social studies teacher and girls basketball coach John Ameen said there is no collective plan among staff members for action such as a petition supporting Knezevich, although teacher Chad Bowdre - on a leave of absence this year - said such a petition already is circulating.
Career and technology teacher Kim Mayer said a petition could present an "uncomfortable" situation for staff, particularly probationary teachers in their first three years with the school district. Contracts of probationary teachers can be non-renewed with little to no cause, Mayer said.
"Over 50 percent of our staff is probationary, and my concern is just the uncomfortableness," she said. "Any staff member who has an opinion should meet with Dr. Smyser and the School Board to voice their opinion - and I certainly hope they've met with Mike (Knezevich), also."
Smyser accepted a job Wednesday as the new superintendent of the Eagle County School District. She starts that job July 1. Connelly said that announcement does not change the School Board's confidence in Smyser as interim superintendent. Smyser was a finalist for Steamboat's full-time job.
"I think just the fact that this is one of our top choices to interview for the full-time position says a lot right there," Connelly said.
School Board member John DeVincentis expressed concern about making a decision about a contract renewal in April - let alone June.
"I think it's, right now, very late notice. To me, if you're going to get a one-year contract, you should know in January," DeVincentis said. "If I was looking for a principal, I would have started looking a lot earlier. : It concerns me that we're making decisions this late."