Cooler heads prevail at Steamboat Springs school board meeting | SteamboatToday.com
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Cooler heads prevail at Steamboat Springs school board meeting

Frances Hohl/For Steamboat Today
The Steamboat Springs School District administration offices at 325 Seventh St.
John F. Russell

CC4E clarifies current progress

No decisions on building new schools or restructuring old schools have been made by the Community Committee for Education, according to Kevin Sankey, chairman of CC4E’s facilities task force.

Sankey updated the Steamboat Springs Board of Education on the committee’s progress Monday night.

Sankey said the goal of the facilities task force is to evaluate maintenance and facility needs for Steamboat Springs schools following the November 2015 failure of a bond issue to fund new schools and projects.

Sankey’s group came under fire last week by some citizens when the task force released a preliminary report to CC4E.

“The public read it as this was our list of actual recommendations. It came across wrong,” Sankey said.

Sankey said the misunderstanding turned out to be a good thing because public interaction is key.

“I’m willing to have the scrutiny,” Sankey said. “The fact we’re getting interaction from the community now, in December, is a positive thing.”

Part of the reason last year’s bond vote for a new school and projects failed was because many community members felt left out of the process, said Sankey, who was part of a group that opposed the ballot initiative.

“We’re spending all of January, February and March really, really getting into dialogue with the community at forums and groups like the Chamber and Board of Realtors,” Sankey said. “We need everyone’s input.”

The facilities task force will be presenting its preliminary report to the school board on Dec. 19.

— Monday night’s Steamboat Springs School District Board of Education meeting took on a more subdued tone after a contentious meeting Nov. 7. That’s when tempers flared after several board members unsuccessfully attempted to unseat Margie Huron as board president.

Huron sent out a letter prior to Monday night’s meeting stating she would be stepping down from her elected post as president to ensure students were the focus of the school board.

CC4E clarifies current progress

No decisions on building new schools or restructuring old schools have been made by the Community Committee for Education, according to Kevin Sankey, chairman of CC4E’s facilities task force.

Sankey updated the Steamboat Springs Board of Education on the committee’s progress Monday night.

Sankey said the goal of the facilities task force is to evaluate maintenance and facility needs for Steamboat Springs schools following the November 2015 failure of a bond issue to fund new schools and projects.

Sankey’s group came under fire last week by some citizens when the task force released a preliminary report to CC4E.

“The public read it as this was our list of actual recommendations. It came across wrong,” Sankey said.

Sankey said the misunderstanding turned out to be a good thing because public interaction is key.

“I’m willing to have the scrutiny,” Sankey said. “The fact we’re getting interaction from the community now, in December, is a positive thing.”

Part of the reason last year’s bond vote for a new school and projects failed was because many community members felt left out of the process, said Sankey, who was part of a group that opposed the ballot initiative.

“We’re spending all of January, February and March really, really getting into dialogue with the community at forums and groups like the Chamber and Board of Realtors,” Sankey said. “We need everyone’s input.”

The facilities task force will be presenting its preliminary report to the school board on Dec. 19.

Since school board elections last November, there have been a number of occasions when new board members Huron, Michelle Dover and Sam Rush clashed with veteran board members Roger Good and Joey Andrew, and communication became strained.

“We’re moving that obstacle (Huron’s presidency) out, so we can focus on what is important to the district and not interpersonal issues,” Huron said during an interview after the meeting.

Good agreed the board should focus on the positive things going on in the district.

“It’s always easy to highlight angst,” Good said. “For five or six years running, Steamboat has been in the top five school districts (out of 178) for academics in the state. We need to concentrate on these truly amazing accomplishments.”

The board will elect a new president at its Dec. 19 meeting.

During the public comment portion of Monday night’s meeting, Carol Harris, a kindergarten teacher and president of the Steamboat Springs Education Association, accused Andrew and Good of trying to intimidate her by standing outside her classroom with arms crossed.

Harris claimed her students asked who the angry men were.

Andrew seemed genuinely puzzled by Harris’ attack.

“I’m trying to rack my brain about that,” Andrew said in an interview after the meeting. “When I go visit, I wait until a teacher motions me in. She’s invited me into her classroom. I’m confused. I just need to email her and see what’s going on.”

Good says he’s not sure he’s even been to Harris’ school this year but said that when he visits classrooms, he tries to wait respectfully until motioned inside.

“There’s probably work to be done on both sides,” Good said.

Andrew and Good, as well as other board members, try to visit classrooms as part of their outreach to better serve the school district.

In other business, the school board modified its public comment rules.

Going forward, the public will no longer have to state ahead of time what they will talk about during the general comment period. Instead, a clipboard will be available for commenters to write their names, the group they represent and their address.

The public will also be allowed to address agenda items at the time they are presented in the meeting.

The three-minute time limit for public comments will remain.

The board meeting also included the presentation of an appreciation plaque to attorney Chris Hamsher for his role in promoting the successful passage of the kindergarten mill levy.

The board also publicly recognized Bebe Lloyd and Wendy Wade, who help head up the Challenge Fund that has raised more than $44,000 this year for elementary and middle school programs.

“You have a group of parents that have raised a quarter of a million dollars in five years. Come on, that’s pretty sweet,” Andrew said. “In a population of 12,000? It’s what makes our district extra special.”


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