Hayden won’t renew Rockhold’s contract

School Board votes not to approve superintendent for next school year

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— Greg Rockhold will not be the Hayden School District superintendent in 2010-11.

The School Board on Wednesday night unanimously voted “no” when Rockhold’s contract came up for approval. Rockhold was hired from E.W. Grove High School in Paris, Tenn., and was given a two-year contract in March 2008.

“Based on the input from the constituents in my district, I would vote no,” School Board President Brian Hoza said when casting the last of five votes.

Asked whether he felt like the fall guy at a time when the district estimates that it will have to cut $495,000 next school year, Rockhold said, “Perhaps. Maybe not fully.”

“When you bust your butt and you start seeing changes, you feel submarined,” he said. “It would be interesting to see this next school year with the changes. Will staff embrace them? Will the community and board embrace them? And more specifically, how will the changes affect the students?”

After the meeting, Hoza said the nonrenewal of Rockhold’s contract didn’t satisfy the possibility of eliminating an administrator, suggested during a School Board budget workshop last week. Including salary and benefits, Rockhold will make about $106,000 this year.

The changes Rockhold referred to were board members unanimously approving a motion to combine Hayden High and Middle schools, leaving the district with a kindergarten- through fifth-grade school and a sixth- through 12th-grade school.

The board elected to leave up to administrators the decision about whether to move the sixth grade to Hayden Valley Elementary School, which came up during last week’s budget workshop. High School Principal Troy Zabel said the district’s administration team recommended cutting one of their positions and combining the three schools into two campuses with one principal for each.

Zabel said the suggestion to move the sixth grade to the elementary school came up during a conversation, but there was no collective decision from the administration team, so they wanted the board to weigh in.

The idea received little board support.

Board member Tim Fren­tress said he wasn’t aware that moving sixth grade to the elementary school would save the district money. Frentress added that he didn’t think it would help the students’ learning environment. Board member Vance Fulton said he received feedback both ways. Fulton said he didn’t think it would happen for another year or two, but wanted more information before deciding.

In other action, the board unanimously approved the contract of Rhonda Sweetser as elementary school principal. Board members tabled approval of contracts for Gina Zabel as middle school principal and Troy Zabel as high school principal.

The board returned from a nearly three-hour executive session, its second of the night. The first lasted about a half-hour before the School Board took action on contracts for Rockhold and the principals and the academic restructuring.

The board added two agenda items. A motion to cut a full-time certified staff position at the elementary school failed, with Sharon Nereson, Fulton and Hoza opposing. A motion to schedule a special School Board meeting at 6 p.m. March 31 was approved.

At that meeting, Hoza said, board members will determine the roles of the superintendent and secondary principal with the newly constructed primary and secondary campuses. He said that likely would include two full-time positions but that their duties haven’t been determined.

State statutes require Colo­rado school districts to have superintendents, but they don’t need to be full-time positions, Hoza said.

Asked whether Troy Zabel could be named superintendent and Gina Zabel could become secondary principal, Hoza said, “I think anything is possible,” but there’s been no discussion about that scenario. He said after the superintendent and secondary principal roles had been determined, the School Board would decide whether to hire from within or post the positions for outside candidates.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail jweinstein@steamboatpilot.com

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