Steamboat School Board approves extending Meeks' contract

Board also OKs administrator, director contracts

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Courtesy photo

Bradley Meeks

2012-2013 administrator and director base salaries

■ Administrators

Tim Bishop, Steamboat Springs Middle School principal: $109,573

Jerry Buelter, Steamboat Springs Middle School assistant principal: $92,650

Tracy Stoddard, Strawberry Park Elementary School principal: $79,399

Megan Hanson-Peters, Steamboat Springs High School assistant principal: $76,429

Michele Miller, Soda Creek Elementary School principal: $91,984

Kevin Taulman, Steamboat Springs High School principal: $112,808

■ Directors

Pascal Ginesta, maintenance operations and transportation: $88,697

Judy Harris, human resources: $95,496

Marty Lamansky, teaching and learning: $92,171

Max Huppert, nutritional services: $67,857

Dale Mellor, finance: $109,438

Tim Miles, technology: $96,695

Salaries do not include benefits, such as automobile allowances or health insurance.

Source: Steamboat Springs School District

— Steamboat Springs Superintendent Brad Meeks will lead Steamboat’s school district at least another two years after the School Board on Monday night voted to extend his contract.

“I think you’ve brought a lot to the district, and I think there’s a lot of potential for further development in the district in the future,” School Board Vice President Denise Connelly told Meeks before the vote. “It’s been a great start.”

The board voted, 4-1, to approve the contract that will pay Meeks $165,000 per year. The board can vote to extend the contract an additional year before it expires in 2014. While Connelly said she supported extending Meeks’ tenure, she voted against the language of the contract approved Monday because she did not agree with a clause in that will pay Meeks $6,000 to a tax sheltered account such as a 401k.

Meeks, who started with the district in July, said he was excited by the opportunity to continue serving in Steamboat.

“There’s a lot more potential, and I look forward to working with the staff and the community and the students,” he said. “I’m very fortunate and grateful.”

The School Board also voted to approve contracts for the school district’s 12 administrators and directors, including the appointment of Tracy Stoddard as principal of Strawberry Park Elementary School.

Montessori program

The School Board kicked off Monday’s meeting by talking with three Montessori parents who laid out a series of options they think can save the upper-level Montessori program that was cut by the school district earlier this month.

Susan Phillips told the School Board that some parents would like to see an independent Montessori Charter School formed but most would like to keep the program at Strawberry Park Elementary School.

“Whatever the plan is, any proposal that keeps (Montessori) in the public school system is ultimately the preferred option,” she said. “Most of the parents I’ve heard from are interested in somehow managing to salvage it” at Strawberry Park.

The district canceled the upper-level Montessori program, which historically has served about 25 fourth- and fifth-grade students each year, because of its declined enrollment for the 2012-13 school year. Administrators also said it was becoming difficult to maintain a healthy size and balance of students in the upper-level classroom. The program also had a setback after the departure of its longtime teacher at the start of this school year.

The district currently plans to move the upper-level Montessori teacher to a fourth- or fifth-grade classroom next year to avoid projected class sizes of 25 students in those classes. Meanwhile, the lower-level Montessori classroom remains popular, and the district plans to continue offering it next school year.

Phillips and a steering committee of two other parents presented to the School Board four options to save the program that included developing a summer Montessori orientation program, adding a second Montessori class to Soda Creek Elementary School, combining the upper- and lower-level Montessori classrooms or establishing an independent Montessori Charter School.

The School Board did not make a decision about the program Monday night and said it will continue its discussions about the program’s future at its budget workshop March 26.

Before the discussion ended, board members Connelly and Wayne Lemley expressed support for the formation of an independent charter school.

“A good option is forming your own charter school and getting state funding that would cover a lot of your costs,” Lemley said. “It might actually work better for all of the parents who are so much in favor of Montessori to manage and run your own school.”

Health clinic

Also at Monday’s meeting, the School Board voted unanimously to allow Meeks to start negotiating a contract that would open a health care clinic for district employees as soon as this summer.

Judy Harris, the district’s director of human resources, said the district plans to have Health Stat, a company based in Charlotte, N.C., start up and manage a health clinic in the George P. Sauer Human Services Center. She said the clinic would be staffed by a local physician’s assistant who could draw blood, administer a wellness survey and provide primary health screenings for district employees. She added that the clinic is not meant to replace an employee’s primary physician but instead to promote wellness and treat episodic illnesses, among other things.

District officials have said the ultimate goal of the clinic is to reduce the cost of health insurance premiums in the district.

“We need to start saving now,” Harris said. “We’ve been giving insurance companies way too much money for too long.”

According to district officials, the clinic will cost an estimate of $264,000 annually to run, with additional startup costs that include the renovation and conversion of a district office room into the clinic. But officials said they expect to receive a return on their investment in the clinic after 18 months because of a resulting decline in insurance premium costs.

The School Board is expected to vote on the contract with Health Stat, which according to its website manages more than 200 clinics across the nation, at a board workshop March 26.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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