Charter school contract approved |

Charter school contract approved

Operating agreement with North Routt Community renewed

Board entertains nearly 20 minutes of public comment during Monday meeting

The Steamboat Springs School Board entertained nearly 20 minutes of public comment Monday on a variety of topics.

Mark Jones spoke on behalf of a group of parents concerned about the offerings and vision for special education students in the district. He said there will be a meeting with Superintendent Donna Howell at 5:30 p.m. Thursday for parents and educators of students with special needs.

Mike Smith, a teacher and business owner, wanted to publicly express his support for the current School Board and its decision to conduct an internal investigation as to whether policies were violated in the Pilot & Today obtaining e-mails board member John DeVincentis wrote several years ago attacking former Steamboat Superintendent Cyndy Simms.

"I appreciate the fact you have gone out and gotten the mill levy passed to raise teacher salaries," Smith said. "I appreciate the fact the bond issue went forward, and I'm here to offer my support for the direction the School Board has taken with the investigation and to get all the facts. I'm a firm believer in not making a decision based on emotion but on facts."

District grant writer Lane Malone, who addressed the board as a parent and taxpayer, spoke in behalf of Superintendent Donna Howell, who she said has been ignored amidst the controversy with the School Board.

"I'm here to commend and thank Donna Howell for her ongoing dedication to the Steamboat Springs School District," Malone said. "I've been consistently impressed by her balanced leadership. She has shown integrity in the face of conflict. Donna Howell is the consummate professional and a valuable asset to our community and school district."

— Bob White was all smiles Monday night.

The Steamboat Springs School Board voted unanimously during its monthly meeting Monday to renew the operating agreement with the North Routt Community Charter School effective through June 2010.

The School Board was kept updated throughout negotiations, which began in January, so there were no surprises – and consequently no discussion – before Monday’s vote.

“The sense is it’s a mutually effective agreement,” said White, president of the North Routt Community Charter School Board.

Steamboat Springs Superintendent Donna Howell and district finance director Dale Mellor represented the district in negotiations. Charter school Head of School Colleen Poole and White represented the charter school. Attorneys from both sides also were involved. White estimated there were 25 edits before the contract was finalized.

“We really appreciate the opportunity to work with Donna on your behalf to restructure this contract for the next three years more in partnership,” White told the Steamboat Springs School Board. “We feel this contract with the revisions is something we would be delighted to enter into.”

The most noticeable changes are reflected in the tone of the new contract.

The previous contract, set to expire this year, had stipulations the charter school had to meet in order to stay afloat. White said the charter school administrators felt like it was written for the charter school to fail, so “it would just go away.”

This contract doesn’t have the same tone, White added.

“It works for both sides,” Howell said.

The charter school, a school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, must maintain a student count of 22, which White doesn’t expect to a problem. Students typically leave the charter school to attend high school in Steamboat.

The charter school in Clark is autonomous but needs a sponsor to be chartered. White said the board in Clark prefers to be sponsored locally than by the state, so he expressed gratitude for the Steamboat Springs School Board’s willingness to maintain the partnership.

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