Strawberry Park names new principal |

Strawberry Park names new principal

Mike McCollum

— The Steamboat Springs School Board chose Brenda Smith Barr, most recently a principal in Colorado Springs, on Monday to run Strawberry Park Elementary School.

Barr, 42, said what attracted her to the position was Steamboat’s mountain setting and the district’s blend of Montessori and traditional school techniques.

“The school I was previously at was both traditional and Montessori,” she said. “It gives parents many different kinds of programs so they can choose what is best for their child.”

Superintendent Donna Howell said she had offered the position to Barr more than two weeks ago. Barr said the delay in accepting the job was due to a fruitless search for housing in Steamboat.

“I’m still looking,” said Barr, who noted her home in Grand Lake is currently on the market. “I need to find a place to live, but I will be in and out of town throughout the summer until I start on Aug. 8. We still have some hiring to do and I need to get all my things into my office.”

In May, then-principal Mark MacHale announced he was leaving the district to become the superintendent in Dolores. He replaced John DeVincentis as the school’s principal two years ago.

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“I think that given the fact that we went out to the market late, we had some quality candidates,” Howell previously said.

Barr’s salary also was approved Monday during the School Board’s special meeting. She will earn $87,500, an increase of 1.24 percent from what MacHale earned last year. Despite the board’s efforts to make administrator pay and benefits more competitive, Barr’s compensation package is 3.6 percent under the market mean.

Howell praised Barr’s Montessori experience Monday and complimented her on her recently completed doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Denver.

Barr earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Alabama. She became the principal at Buena Vista Elementary in Colorado Springs two years ago after working as an assistant principal and as an instruction facilitator in the Colorado Springs School District.

Although Barr said she’s eager to meet with staff, a move to Steamboat sooner rather than later also would allow her to fit in a few more summer mountain hikes before the school year begins.

“It’s a beautiful school and everyone has been friendly, but I mean just look at the pristine environment as far as the hiking and the biking, access to the rivers and the water,” said Barr, who began her career in Oxford, Miss., as a high school teacher before taking a position with the Mississippi Department of Education.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a good skier,” she said. “But I’m eager for winter to come as well.”


The School board approved 2007-2008 salaries for district administrators Monday night. Below is a list of the salaries, including (in parentheses) administrator salaries for the 2006-2007 school year. Positions without parenthesis indicate a new hire.

Assistant to Superintendent Anne Muhme: $59,250 ($57,803)

Director of Finance and Operations Dale Mellor: $92,900 ($87,231)

Director of Curriculum and Instruction: JoAnne Hilton-Gabeler $89,000

Steamboat Springs High School Principal Mike Knezevich: $98,000 ($92,896)

Steamboat Springs Middle School Principal Tim Bishop: $92,000 ($89,724)

Soda Creek Elementary School Principal Judy Harris: $88,500 ($85,165)

Strawberry Park Elementary School Principal Brenda Smith Barr: $87,500

High School Assistant Principal Kevin Taulman: $81,225 ($78,804)

Middle School Assistant Principal Jerry Buelter: $74,900 ($72,310)

Director of Technology Tim Miles: $77,750 ($73,000)

Director of Facilities Rick Denney: $65,500 ($63,352)

Director of Transportation Ed Dingledine: $55,750 ($51,642)

Director of Nutritional Services Teresa Wise: $51,600 ($50,000)