South Routt superintendent under fire from parents, teachers
Board stands behind Scott Mader
January 20, 2010
Oak Creek — About 20 South Routt Elementary School teachers, parents and staff members attended Tuesday's School Board meeting to support Principal Michael Young.
Earlier in the day, Young told the elementary school's teachers — individually — that he would be seeking new employment, several teachers said. Some of the supporters said there were "philosophical differences" between Young and Superintendent Scott Mader.
Young left Yampa on Tuesday afternoon to attend a meeting in Denver and couldn't be reached for comment.
School Board President Tim Corrigan asked that the group be limited to three speakers.
Parent Carl Walker, who said he visited the elementary school and met with Young before moving to Yampa three years ago, said problems arose in August. He said it was clear there was discord between Young and Mader and between Mader and the teachers.
"I do not know the cause of this problem, nor do I think it currently matters," Walker said, reading from a letter he wrote to the School Board. "What I do know is that this problem has, and is currently having, a very negative effect on the teachers who interact with my children every day."
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Walker added that the problem seemed to reach a level at which Young thinks his only option is to find a new job — an option Walker said was "unacceptable." He asked that the board prevent Young from leaving and begin looking for a new superintendent.
Parent Julie Spitzley told the School Board how much Young means to the elementary school and its students. She said he paints, drives buses, supervises the playground — he does everything.
"He goes above and beyond what a normal principal does," Spitzley said.
Young was hired as the elementary school's principal in April 2006.
Karen Craven, an art para-educator at the elementary school, also asked that the School Board seek Mader's resignation. Craven, who has worked for the school for 15 years, called Mader a "micromanager to the extreme."
Mader joined the district before the 2008-09 school year. He previously was the superintendent in the Hayden School District from 1998 to 2004. After the 2003-04 school year, Mader was suspended and later resigned.
At the time, some Hayden district parents said Mader micromanaged school and classroom procedures. The district investigated the allegations. Mader's resignation was not based on any decision or findings from that inquiry, the district said at the time.
At the end of the meeting, the School Board met in executive session to discuss the "charges" made against Mader. Board members emerged about a half hour later and took no action.
Corrigan said the School Board would not ask Mader to resign.
"We believe the allegations made against Mr. Mader tonight were without basis," he said.
Young met with board members in executive session last fall, Corrigan said. He said the School Board also met with a group of concerned parents before November's board meeting.
Mader declined to comment about his working relationship with Young, citing personnel issues. He also declined to comment about the allegations made against him at the meeting.
Also at Tuesday's meeting:
■ Mader and Dina Murray, South Routt's finance director, said the district projected a $472,604 budget shortfall in 2010-11. Mader said the number was the full budget and didn't reflect any possible cuts.
The board will meet at 7 p.m. Jan. 26 in a work session to begin discussing budget reductions.
■ The School Board discussed Corrigan's idea to buy Apple Macbook laptop computers next year for incoming Soroco High School freshmen.
Corrigan said he still thought it was a good idea, but he was starting to have second thoughts about rolling out the program next year.
The board will discuss the proposal at next month's board meeting.