RFSD board to consider Sirko contract renewal
Roaring Fork School District Superintendent Diana Sirko said Monday she was surprised by controversy stirred by the school board’s announcement last week it would consider extending her contract, which expires this spring.
Sirko has formally requested a three-year extension, a move that sparked some criticism based on expectations among some district patrons that chief academic officer Rob Stein was slated to become superintendent.
Stein was originally selected as superintendent in 2012 but had to resign after a week in the office when his wife was injured in a bicycle accident. Sirko, a former Aspen School District superintendent, stepped in, and Stein later returned as assistant superintendent and CAO.
“For the past two years, every involved parent, every teacher, every principal I have communicated with has been anticipating that Stein will be hired as superintendent at the end of Sirko’s contract this spring,” wrote former school board member Debbie Bruell in a guest opinion that appeared in several area newspapers, including the Post Independent. “No one anticipated that Sirko would seek to continue as superintendent beyond these 2½ years.”
On Friday, district staff received an email addressing the controversy, signed by “The Executive Team,” which included Sirko and Stein.
“All members of our team have acted with integrity and none have violated any agreements with respect to this situation,” it read. “We stand united as a team and proud of the work we are accomplishing as a district. We are committed to continuing the work we do on behalf of our students. We will not let distractions get in the way.”
Sirko, for her part, seemed surprised at the backlash.
“This has become a much more contentious issue than I ever anticipated,” she said. “Two years ago, when I signed the contract that I’m currently working under, we agreed that I’d have a right to request a renewal. Why wouldn’t I? I love what I’m doing. I believe I have something to contribute.”
Sirko called Stein “a talented educator” and acknowledged the possibility that he might succeed her.
“It would be naive to think that Rob would not be considered for the position if it became open, but there was never a timeline,” she said. “It’s always nice for a district to have people in the wings they know can step in, but this has never been about Rob versus me.”
Stein’s contract also expires at the end of the school year. So far, he hasn’t filed a request for renewal, but he has some time. The superintendent’s position is more urgent.
“If the board decides to allow Dr. Sirko’s contract to expire, the district would need to undertake a public selection process in early January,” said newly minted board President Daniel Biggs. “Until then, it is premature to begin discussing other candidates for the position.”
The board will consider Sirko’s extension at a meeting scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 10 at Bridges High School in Carbondale. Public comment will be allowed.
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