Editorial Board, May 2008 to August 2008
- Bryna Larsen, publisher
- Brent Boyer, editor
- Mike Lawrence, city editor
- Tom Ross, reporter
- Eric Morris, community representative
- Paul Draper, community representative
Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.
Steamboat Springs High School Principal Mike Knezevich's attempt last week to rally his staff to save his job certainly was unprofessional. Even more concerning is how his actions have divided the school's faculty and potentially jeopardized the employment of probationary teachers and support staff members who have no desire or need to be involved in such a matter.
Knezevich, like all Steamboat Springs School District administrators other than the superintendent, is employed by a one-year contract subject to review and renewal each spring. All administrators understand they are at-will employees of the school district.
The Steamboat Springs School Board is scheduled to review and subsequently renew or non-renew all administrator contacts at its meeting Monday. Knowing that his job is in jeopardy, Knezevich called a staff meeting at 7:45 a.m. Wednesday to inform school faculty that he had been given two options by the district: resign his position or face the likelihood that his contract would not be renewed for the 2008-09 school year. He also said he had been told he could remediate his performance in several areas, including, ironically, treatment of staff.
Knezevich then encouraged his teachers and staff to show up at the board meeting Monday to support him.
We don't know and therefore cannot comment on how Knezevich has performed as a principal. But Knezevich's decision to air his contract status is troubling.
While he told staff members he didn't want his employment to affect the school or its students, it certainly will do both. About half of the school's faculty are probationary teachers with less than three years experience, meaning their employment is at the discretion of the principal. We have heard from numerous teachers expressing their discomfort with being confronted with a petition effort to back Knezevich. If they don't sign it, they risk the scorn of the principal and his supporters. Worse yet, their jobs could be at risk if they don't back their leader. The fear of retaliation is real and understandable. By his own actions, Knezevich has put his school's staff in an extremely awkward, no-win situation.
Politicizing his employment also is detrimental to the school district and the community. Once again, we find ourselves dealing with school administrators in a very public setting, and at a time when the district is in the final stages of its search for a full-time superintendent as well as nearing a push for renewal of the city's half-cent sales tax for education.
Of course, this is exactly what Knezevich wanted - to make his job status public and incite reaction from his allies. No doubt they'll show up to Monday's School Board meeting and plead their cases in his defense. The School Board, unable to discuss a personnel issue in public without the employee's permission, won't have the opportunity to respond.
Perhaps Knezevich should request that his contract review discussion be held in public, and open up his recent evaluations to the scrutiny of the community. If he wants the community to believe the fate apparently assigned to him is unjust, then he should prove why we should stand in his defense.
Until that happens, we're left with just another unfortunate personnel chapter for an otherwise spectacular school district.