Steamboat Springs School Board OKs superintendent contract |

Steamboat Springs School Board OKs superintendent contract

2 School Board members oppose extension for Cunningham

Jack Weinstein

— The Steamboat Springs School Board on Monday night approved, by a 3-2 vote, a three-year contract extension for Superintendent Shalee Cunningham.

Cunningham will continue to be paid $150,000 annually, the same salary she has received in her current two-year contract, which expires June 30. The contract details were made public after the School Board met for about 30 minutes in executive session.

School Board members Den­­ise Connelly and Laura Ander­­son opposed the three-year extension. They cited their preference for another two-year contract and expressed concern with a $75,000 severance payment. The contract includes a clause that states that, should the School Board terminate Cunningham, it would be liable for her remaining salary "not to exceed a total of $75,000."

Parent Susie Makens spoke in opposition of the contract, citing the term length and severance. She said $75,000 was a lot of money.

"It's more money than a lot of people make here, especially in these economic times," Makens said. "It's no disrespect to the person doing the job."

School Board President Robin Crossan said the severance would protect the district if board members chose to terminate Cunningham at a time when it owed her more than $75,000.

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Crossan and board members Lisa Brown and Brian Kelly said they were encouraged by Cunningham's willingness to commit to another three years with the district.

Kelly said the district has been through "tremendous upheaval" in superintendents from 2002 to when Cunningham arrived prior to the 2008-09 school year. He said it's comforting to know that the same person would continue to guide the district through difficult economic times.

"You're not going to get a lot done in a year," he said. "If that person thinks they're only going to be here a year, what's their investment in the district in three, four or five years?"

In addition to health and retirement benefits, Cunning­ham's new contract includes 12 days annual leave; 15 days of vacation days per year; "reasonable" business expenses; and a $125 monthly mileage allowance. The district also will pay Cunningham's membership fees for the American Association of School Administrators, the Colorado Association of School Executives and the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs. Cunningham's contract requires her to be a member of a service club in the community.

In other action, the School Board unanimously approved administrator contracts and the Collaborative Bargaining Team proposal for all staff members for the 2010-11 school year.

Each existing administrator was approved for his or her current role with the exception of Strawberry Park Elementary School Co-Principal Michele Miller, who will become an assistant principal next year for the district's two elementary schools.

Crossan said the administrators weren't given salary increases. District staff members also won't be given raises next school year, but the Collaborative Bargaining Team agreement provides increases for academic advances.

Finance Director Dale Mell­or also presented the impacts of Proposition 101 and Amend­ments 60 and 61, three ballot measures that Colorado residents will consider in Nov­ember.

The measures are aimed at decreasing taxes and reducing government spending. If approved, they would significantly impact the district's primary revenue source — property taxes — and other sources.

"It's really going to hurt," Mellor said.

The School Board agreed to start working on ways to engage the public about the measures. Cunningham said the district would include a presentation about the measures at budget workshops scheduled for May 17.

Administrator base salaries*

■ Judy Harris, Soda Creek Elementary School principal, $91,082

■ Celia Dunham, Strawberry Park Elementary School principal, $82,632

■ Michele Miller, Soda Creek and Strawberry Park assistant principal, $73,036

■ Tim Bishop, Steamboat Springs Middle School principal, $95,102

■ Jerry Buelter, Steamboat Springs Middle School assistant principal, $79,123

■ Kevin Taulman, Steamboat Springs High School principal, $98,503

■ Marty Lamansky, Steamboat Springs High School assistant principal, $79,123

*Base salaries do not include health insurance and other benefits

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