BOCES retains Toothaker as executive director

Several speak in support of director, despite financial woes


— The BOCES board voted to retain Jane Toothaker as executive director at a special meeting Monday night in Steamboat Springs.

After more than three and a half hours in an executive session to evaluate the Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Education Services administration, the board voted, 4-2, in support of continuing with Toothaker.

Board President Brian Hoza, who represents Hayden, and Steamboat representative Laura Anderson, voted against the motion to retain Toothaker.

“I have grave concerns and a lack of confidence with Jane continuing as executive director,” Anderson said during a discussion before the vote.

Anderson noted last year’s budget overspending and BOCES spending all its reserves without board approval, and communication issues between Toothaker and the board, as reasons for her vote.

Hoza said it would be “negligent” for the board to overlook BOCES’ current financial situation and the reasons Anderson mentioned, which have made it difficult for the board to make good decisions.

He said for those reasons and a loss of faith from the Colorado Department of Education, it would be appropriate for the board to change direction and move forward with a new executive director.

Hoza added, however, that he thought Toothaker was doing everything within her power to fix the current financial situation — a sentiment shared by the rest of the board.

In September, the BOCES board learned that BOCES had overspent its 2008-09 budget by nearly $317,000. It also told its six member districts it would increase assessments for services this year by more than $481,000. At the time, BOCES asked the districts to pick up the tab.

Since then, BOCES has received $273,000 in federal stimulus funding to help make up for last year’s overspending. The Steamboat, Hayden and South Routt school districts would pay the remainder for the Day Treatment program.

The BOCES board earlier this month approved the 2009-10 budget with cuts and assessments at or near what was first presented to the districts in May, when they were drafting their budgets for this school year.

Also earlier this month, during a draft report of the 2008-09 audit, it was revealed BOCES will carry a more than $34,000 deficit into this year. BOCES, which is subject to the School District Budget Law in the Colorado Revised Statutes, isn’t allowed to carry a deficit from one year to another. BOCES officials have said they will address the deficit in this year’s budget.

Districts also raised concerns, beginning in the spring, because they had not received $777,000 in federal title program funding from BOCES, which was using the funding to pay operational costs.

BOCES has issued each district a check for its share of the federal title program funding. But the state Department of Education revoked BOCES’ responsibility to distribute that funding this year. The districts will receive that money directly from the state, which receives it from the federal government. The state Department of Education will evaluate whether to return that responsibility to BOCES in April.

Although the rest of the board voted to retain Toothaker, she will be placed under a yet-undetermined probationary period.

During that time, the board will work with Toothaker on financial issues, performance factors, correcting areas of non-compliance, clarifying a system of oversight, improving communication and clarifying expectations.

Monday’s meeting began at 6 p.m.

About 35 people, all but 10 of which were BOCES employees, showed up for the public comment portion. About 10 people spoke, all but one in support of Toothaker.

They spoke of Toothaker’s passion, dedication, professionalism and leadership.

And they said it would be unwise for the board to punish Toothaker for the current financial situation, which many share blame for.

“I’m pleased to have the majority of the board’s support,” Toothaker said after the meeting. “And it’s my intention to earn the support of the rest of the board back.”

The BOCES board meets next at 9 a.m. Dec. 9 in Steamboat. The final 2008-09 audit will be presented at that time.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail


carlyle 7 years, 5 months ago

This is simply amazing. Why shouldn't Toothaker be indicted on gross mismanagement? She should certainly be fired. "They spoke of Toothaker's passion, dedication, professionalism and leadership. And they said it would be unwise for the board to punish Toothaker for the current financial situation, which many share blame for." Well, maybe a bunch more should be fired. Truly unbelievable and a prime example why so many of us are so discouraged and disappointed in government.


opinion 7 years, 5 months ago

Instead of being discouraged and disappointed...try being grateful and glad that a good decision was made. For that many BOCES' employees to support Jane, it is proof that rather than gross mismangement she offers solid leadership. Her staff has voluntarily cut hours to help make the necessary cuts this year and accepted benefit reductions because they believe in the BOCES mission and because they trust in her decisions. The financial crisis is a shared responsibility by many parties and Jane is the best person to lead BOCES back to financial stability.


Roger Good 7 years, 5 months ago

If the executive director is not responsible for the "gross mismanagement" of the budget, then it is time to look to the board of directors. How do we clean that house


arnonep 7 years, 5 months ago

carlyle Why were you and the others, that believe Jane should have been fired, not at the meeting last night? I was there and was the only person that spoke to the accountability for the mistake that was made. My continued concern is that Jane, and the others responsible for the mistake, are not suffering any consequences for their actions. As I understand it, they are still illeagly $34,000 over budget. Is Jane volunteering to cover that or does she expect her underlings to suck that up also? Mind numming to think of employees taking a pay cut because their boss dropped the ball.


Kuri 7 years, 5 months ago

Arnonep, would that I could have gone to last night's meeting to speak against Toothaker's continuation as director. Instead, I was home with my two children, one of whom has special needs, and depends for school-based services on the BOCES. In five years I have observed and been impacted by Toothaker's complete lack of compassion and understanding again and again and again.

No private business could afford such gross fiscal mismanagement by a director. What makes the BOCES board think our children can? If Toothaker had a shred of integrity, she would resign. She doesn't.


mavis 7 years, 5 months ago

WOW if you want job security you better work for the City of Steamboat (especially the planning department) or BOCES. In the real world there wouldn't be a discussion about switching things up to clear up the problem. And what type of research did the BOCES board do to research the performance of thier directors?
and Arnonep--- really you have to ask why people didn't speak up?? did the thought ever occour to you that they have to try and perserve their jobs too?? Those that probably know the most or have the most valuable opinions might be in situations where they can't speak out or the consequences for them will be too much. They were probably entrusting that the board would do some housecleaning and realize how messy the entire situation is on numerous levels.


babette dickson 7 years, 5 months ago

I agree with Kuri. BOCES board should be ashamed to retain a leadership that has been proven incompetent. Our tax dollars, our stimulus money is going to BOCES bank instead of our kids and some awesome new programs we could have started with hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Feds. I have been advocating for years to bring to Steamboat Applied Behavior Analysis, a costly and scientifically based method to support kids with behavioral issues.... I had dreamed the stimulus money could finally be there for this program. In 2007, I filed a federal complaint because BOCES was - and is still - incompetent in protecting the rights of our special needs children. The State ruled in my favor, but I didn't expect any apologies from BOCES board and leadership... It never came indeed. I hope school districts have finally understood they lose a lot contracting with BOCES and hopefully will continue to pull their programs from BOCES. I missed Monday night meeting, but now I realize that I would have talked to a wall of incompetence, except for Brian and Laura I suppose. When our school districts will file a waiver like Moffat county did to run their own programs instead of NWBOCES? Let's create a new co-op of services. Only the public pressure will force changes... Yes we can!?


addlip2U 7 years, 5 months ago

Is this where my half cent sales tax went....for education?


babette dickson 7 years, 5 months ago

No addlips2, our half cent tax goes where we voted for: small class sizes = more teachers, resources, computers.... BOCES receives $$ from the feds and the state - not local dollars - for different services they provide from special education, to professional development.... So be assure, this is different game where State and Federal gov is involved, nothing local.


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