Our View: Meeks rolls the dice
November 1, 2011
The Steamboat Springs School District's plan to hire a new director of teaching and learning comes with a high price tag and a history of questionable success that leaves us wondering whether it's really the best way to spend six figures.
The new administrative position was approved unanimously by the School Board on Oct. 17. It was proposed by new Superintendent Brad Meeks, who said the absence of a curriculum director has resulted in a lack of coordination in some curriculum areas between the district's elementary, middle and high schools.
"Revisiting the teaching and learning position will be a move that will strengthen this district," Meeks told the School Board. "I believe this will allow us to make our already high-performing district even stronger."
The director of teaching and learning will earn between $82,000 and $107,000 per year, depending on experience. District Finance Director Dale Mellor said the salary will be paid for with unanticipated revenues from the district's larger-than-expected student enrollment this fall. The district expects to collect $300,000 in new revenue because of the additional students.
Meeks is concerned that although the district scores well on state assessment tests, groups of students continue to fall through cracks in the system. He said it's part of a larger systemic issue in which the district lacks a common thread to what individual schools are doing.
We applaud Meeks' goals, and we believe the outcomes he seeks are valid. But we're skeptical of the impact a curriculum director can make. Specifically, the obstacles encountered by the district's directors of curriculum throughout the past decade serve as a precautionary tale for what can be accomplished.
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The district has been working toward an articulated K-12 curriculum for years, and we're not sure there's much to show for it. And until there exists a culture within the school district that is open and embracing of curriculum and instructional change, we can't help but be wary of the latest bid to accomplish it.
By advocating for the reinstatement of a high-paid administrative position that was cut from the district two years ago because of budget concerns, Meeks has made his first bold move as superintendent. Unless he can influence some significant change throughout the district, he runs the risk of wasting precious financial resources on this position.