Steamboat Springs School Board down 1 member after resignation

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Jim Kissane

— For the second time this year, the Steamboat Springs School Board has to appoint a new member after an unexpected resignation.

Board member Jim Kissane, who was appointed to his District 2 seat in January, resigned last week after he moved out of the district he represents to a new home near downtown Steamboat.

State rules do not allow board members to continue serving out a term if they don't reside in the boundaries of the district to which they were elected.

The move will force the board, which has struggled in recent years to attract new candidates, to find a replacement within two months.

“I kind of regret I have to resign because I was at the point where I was starting to understand all that was going on,” Kissane said. “I think I have much more appreciation now for what goes on in the district.”

Kissane, a retired TIC controller and chief financial officer, took the seat after board member Wayne Lemley resigned in November because of personal reasons.

The School Board officially will declare the seat open again at a meeting next month.

Faced with another sudden resignation and no identified candidates for District 2, Board President Brian Kelly on Sunday pondered whether new financial incentives for board members will be needed in the future to attract strong candidates.

“My gut feeling is you're going to have trouble attracting working people to serve on the School Board with just nothing,” Kelly said. “Times are too tough.”

Board members receive $20 a month as a cellphone stipend.

Kelly pointed to other boards in the city that are compensated at a much higher level for their service.

Steamboat Springs City Council members, for example, make $625 per month and receive full health benefits. The council's president makes $825 per month, and the president pro-tem makes $725 a month.

“You hate thinking about putting more money into the directorship of the school district in the budget times you're in,” Kelly said. “But man, I don't think anybody can do as much good or as much harm as the School Board can do.”

Kelly said the upcoming appointment in District 2 could be tricky because the seat must be filled less than two months before it will be in play for the November election.

He said it could get even more complicated if more than one person decides to run for the seat, and the board doesn't have a “neutral” person come forward and fill it as a sort of placeholder until the election.

But Kelly isn't rooting against having more than one person run for the seat.

“You almost always want an election to be contested,” he said. “It's better for the democratic process.”

District 2 covers all of the school district's southern boundary and a small section within city limits. With the exception of Tree Haus, residents who vote in Precincts 6, 7 and 18 live in the district.

Kelly said Kissane's sudden resignation beckons an important question for the School Board.

“Is this a run of bad luck, or is the board going to have trouble attracting good candidates, period?” he asked.

It's been years since the School Board had every seat contested in an election.

With Kelly saying Sunday that he is unlikely to seek another term, the District 2 seat open and incumbent Denise Connelly term limited in District 3, chances are the race will be wide open.

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

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Comments

Ann Trout 1 year, 4 months ago

Another way to take money out of the classroom and away from educating the students.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 4 months ago

The standard is that every seat is supposed to be contested?

No great reason why a school board should have contested seats. Unless there are problems with serious different opinions on how to proceed then there is no need for contested seats. Contested seats are important when there are seriously different opinions and one side ends up losing simply because they didn't have anyone to run. Such as Texas educational board that ends up in the hands of loonies that don't believe in science.

Nor is there any great need to fill the seat before the election with a "neutral" person. A candidate being appointed could be a double edged sword because proposing something unpopular while in office could help an opposing candidate.

The fact that the school district is operating relatively smoothly and there are not as many people feeling the need to get onto the school board to fix things should not be an excuse for a school board member pay raise.

Democracy is not served by increasing the pay for elected position to attract more candidates.

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