School Board sends at-large districting plan to November vote

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— The Steamboat Springs School Board plowed through several major decisions Monday night, but it did so without much drama, passing a pair of important resolutions in the board’s last regular meeting of the 2012-13 school session.

The board voted 4-1 to include on the November general election ballot a measure to make all five board positions at-large seats, a change that would alter the current setup that allocates the seats by geographic region.

The board then voted 5-0 to approve a contract extension of two years for Superintendent Dr. Brad Meeks.

The evening’s only contention came related to the motion about the at-large status of board member seats. Board member Robin Crossan wanted to make two positions at-large and leave the remaining three spots divvied up by region across the district.

“I tried to take a lot of time to talk to people in the community and find out how they felt,” Crossan said.

That process mostly found a lack of strong opinions, people who “didn’t care one way or another,” and many who “didn’t know anything about it and probably didn’t care,” she said.

She did encounter one strong voice against any change, however, and she said that motivated her to push for limited change rather than the overhaul that eventually passed.

“Philosophies are different,” she said about the various parts of the district, from North Routt, through downtown Steamboat Springs and south into the county.

Board member Rebecca Williams re-enforced Crossan’s sentiment, saying “it’s important to have some diversity.”

Jim Kissane, Brian Kelly and Denise Connelly said they weren’t staunchly against such a plan, but they still banded together to vote down Crossan’s motion, 3-2.

Citing the potential for extra cost involved in deciding district boundaries and the occasional headache that stems from the current borders, Connelly moved to have the district vote in November to make all five at-large seats.

That motion passed, 4-1, with Williams joining in. If passed, the change wouldn’t take place until 2015. Board members elected in November would still be subject to current district borders.

The question will cost the district $9,000 to add to the November ballot, and the money has already been budgeted.

“The community has become more homogenous in the last five to 10 years,” Kelly said, addressing the concerns over diversity.

Meeks’ contract extension passed unanimously with only positive comments coming from the board. They praised his efficiency and the advantages of continuity of leadership.

“I really appreciate that you take the direction of the board and go with it,” Williams said to Meeks.

His contract, exactly the same as his original 2011 contract, was approved, 5-0. It will pay him an annual salary of $165,000 and be up for review in one year.

“I’m glad. We have a lot of good work going and I’d like to be here with the staff and the community to see it through,” Meeks said.

Educators honored

A trio of Steamboat Springs educators were selected Monday to receive the Peabody Energy Leaders in Education Award. Strawberry Park Elementary School kindergarten teacher Nan Porter, Strawberry Park Elementary School media specialist Sherry Holland and Soda Creek Elementary School kindergarten teacher Grady Turner were chosen.

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