Staff input sought in Re-1 superintendent’s review
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The Roaring Fork School District Re-1 board of education will conduct a so-called “360-degree” review, open to all district staff, in its ongoing assessment of Re-1 Superintendent Judy Haptonstall.
In addition, the board announced Tuesday it will continue to take public comments at a series of upcoming meetings to gather views from community members on the school district’s direction under Haptonstall’s leadership.
Individual board members are also planning to hold special “office hours,” at which any confidential feedback is encouraged, according to the board’s statement.
“The board has opted to continue this conversation in an effort to ensure that all stakeholders have the opportunity to contribute,” according to the statement, which came in follow-up to a special Monday meeting at which Haptonstall’s current two-year contract was up for reconsideration.
The meeting drew a large crowd of both critics and supporters of Haptonstall, now in her fifth year as district superintendent. Haptonstall said she plans to retire after her current contract is up in June 2013.
However, she has come under the microscope since the recent election of three new school board members in what some viewed as a referendum on the district’s leadership.
Some of those who spoke at the Monday meeting referred to a “climate of fear” as it relates to parents and teachers speaking up about district policies. Others have been critical of a decision last spring to fire popular Glenwood Springs Elementary School principal Sonya Hemmen.
Supporters, however, including several school principals and other district employees, say they find Haptonstall approachable and open to ideas from others.
No action was taken at the Monday meeting, but the board promised a follow-up statement of its intentions regarding Haptonstall’s future with the district.
The idea of a 360 review was suggested by a group of parents last May when the previous school board agreed to extend Haptonstall’s contract for two years.
A 360 review is a type of job performance evaluation that includes input from peers and subordinates within an organization.
“This review will utilize an online survey implemented by a third party firm, and the process will be led by the Board of Education,” the board explained in its statement. “All input will be 100 percent confidential, and no identifying information will be requested.”
Re-1 employees will be asked to complete the online review by Dec. 9, so that the data can be compiled in time for a scheduled Dec. 16 school board meeting.
“We do want to move pretty fast on this,” Re-1 board president Matt Hamilton said.
Hamilton also responded to criticisms expressed at the Monday meeting suggesting he and fellow new school board members Daniel Biggs and Terry Lott Richardson came in with an agenda to get rid of Haptonstall.
“I have no agenda other than providing the strongest learning environment for our kids in our district,” Hamilton said. “And district leadership is one element of that.”
A time will be set aside at three upcoming school board meetings for public comments on district leadership or any other subject people want to comment on, he said.
Those meetings are slated for Nov. 29 and Dec. 14 in Glenwood Springs, and again as part of an all-day board retreat on Dec. 16 at a location to be determined.
A decision of some sort on the future direction of the school district is expected at the Dec. 16 meeting, Hamilton said.
Haptonstall, reached at her office on Tuesday, declined to comment on the board’s plans.
Meanwhile, Hamilton and one other board member, Richard Stettner, are also planning to hold office hours for anyone to express their opinions one-on-one about district policies.
Stettner will be at Basalt Elementary School this Thursday from 4-5:30 p.m., and again on Dec. 13 from 3:30-5 p.m. Hamilton said he will announce his upcoming office hours soon.
In addition to its conversations about district leadership, the board also intends to delve into talks with administrators about the Moving On levels placement program, and begin setting priorities for spending the mill levy override funds approved by Re-1 voters in the Nov. 1 election.
“While the board works to ensure an open and deliberative process regarding district leadership we also plan to fully engage with our leadership staff in conversations about how we might support teachers, parents and administrators as they seek to implement the Moving On program,” according to the board statement.
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