Hayden forgoes principal | SteamboatToday.com
Tamera Manzanares

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Hayden forgoes principal

School Board also discusses 4-day week

The Hayden School District will not hire a principal for Hayden Valley Elementary School.

The Hayden School Board on Wednesday voted to keep the school’s current administrative structure, with teacher leader Rhonda Sweetser as building administrator and superintendent Mike Luppes as part-time principal.

That system has been in place since last fall, when Luppes was promoted from principal to superintendent. The board also approved Luppes’ one-year superintendent contract Wednesday.

Not hiring an elementary school principal will save the district about $50,000. The district expects an estimated $200,000 budget shortfall for the 2005-06 school year — the result of tax abatements and declining student enrollment.

Twenty-one candidates ap–plied for the principal job and will be notified about the district’s change in plans.

Forgoing a full-time elementary school principal will prevent some teacher and personnel cuts throughout the district.

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Luppes presented the board with a budget reduction plan Wednesday. The board likely will make a final decision regarding any staff cuts at its regular meeting April 20.

The board held a work session last week to discuss the principal issue with parents and teachers. Most were comfortable with keeping the school’s current administrative structure, though some parents worried certain programs may suffer without a full-time principal.

The School Board will hold another work session at 7 p.m. April 6 to further discuss possible budget cuts with parents and staff.

In related business, the board discussed pros and cons of implementing a four-day student school week for a portion of the 2005-06 school year.

The idea originally was raised as a possible budget-saving measure, but a closer look has shown more potential benefits for teacher development, Luppes said.

Luppes and Troy Zabel, principal of Hayden Middle and High School, proposed a four-day schedule for 13 weeks between Thanksgiving and spring break.

Students would have Fridays off. Teachers would work 10 Fridays for about four hours. They would spend most of that time working together to assess students, develop achievement goals, evaluate testing scores and study teaching strategies.

Zabel stressed that the schedule would give schools and teachers uninterrupted “sacred time” to fully implement Professional Learning Communities, an education model focused on teacher collaboration.

“We need to break our instructional isolation,” he said.

Zabel, Sweetser and middle school Dean of Students Gina Zabel have discussed a four-day week with teachers and said none are adamantly opposed to the schedule.

High School science teacher Mari Mahanna was among teachers who said they rarely have time to work and plan with other teachers.

“I haven’t talked to another science teacher other than during in service days,” she said. “That collaborative piece — we have got to find a way to get that in.”

The proposed schedule would add a minimum of 33 minutes to each school day. Day care for younger children is among the biggest concerns about the schedule.

However, the longer school day may require less after-school day care, and older students would be available to baby-sit, Zabel said.

The Totally Kids activities program also may be interested in starting a Friday program for children, Luppes said.

The proposed schedule would save the district a minimum of $10,000 — not enough to justify the change solely for budgetary purposes, he said.

“The more we look at it, the more these other advantages come to the forefront,” Luppes said.

Also Wednesday, the School Board approved a one-year contract for Troy Zabel.

— To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com