Birdsey ‘surprised and saddened’ to leave Re-2
RIFLE — Recent events in the Garfield Re-2 School District that ultimately resulted in former Superintendent Susan Birdsey agreeing to resign came as a surprise, Birdsey said in a statement last week.
“I am surprised and saddened by the recent events related to my employment with Garfield Re-2 School District,” the statement read. “I am surprised because the school board has never told me I was doing anything but an excellent job. I am saddened because I have been a part of the Garfield Re-2 team for 10 years, and it was my honor and privilege to serve as the superintendent for the last five years.”
The board of education announced Tuesday evening that it had reached a final agreement with Birdsey. Assistant Superintendent Dave Lindenberg will serve as interim superintendent for at least the next two months, the board decided.
Since the separation was first publicly mentioned at the July 28 school board meeting, members have not commented on what led to the fallout with Birdsey.
Vice President Anne Guettler declined to comment Wednesday on the reason for the separation agreement, saying that the issue is personnel matter and therefore not open to discussion. It is a board protocol, she added, not to publicly discuss personnel matters regarding any employee.
Guettler also declined to comment on Birdsey’s statement, because, she said it still pertains to a personnel issue.
Birdsey’s accomplishments during her tenure are detailed in a two-page exhibit attached to the separation agreement. Those accomplishments include working without an assistant superintendent for two years as a way to cut costs in response to shrinking state funding.
Her tenure also saw graduation rates increase to 84 percent, and dropout rates fall to 1.1 percent — both numbers better than state averages. The exhibit also noted Birdsey’s work with administrators and the school board.
“During my time as superintendent we were able to accomplish so much,” Birdsey said in her statement, before pointing to the “letter of recommendation” attached to the separation agreement.
“Dr. Birdsey did do great things for the district and we’re sad to see her go, but at this time the board has decided to move in a different direction and so it was a mutual decision,” Guettler said.
The board started reviewing the district’s evaluation documents in January and started formally meeting in April, after refining the evaluation documents, Guettler said. Those discussions occurred in executive session.
As of last Friday, the board had not completed a 2015 superintendent evaluation, according to an email from Brent Case, who the board hired specifically to handle this situation.
The Citizen Telegram also requested evaluations for Birdsey each year she served as superintendent. Case responded that “the district has no documents responsive to your request.”
Guettler said she recalled board discussions when deciding whether to extend Birdsey’s contract in 2013. After those discussions, board President Chris Pearson met with Birdsey to discuss her performance, Guettler said.
In exchange for Birdsey’s resignation, she will be paid $218,992, less applicable deductions.
In her statement, Birdsey said “loved being a part” of the community.
“I leave with the certainty that the dedicated individuals working on behalf of the Re-2 students and families will continue to live the vision. I also leave encouraging the community members served by Garfield Re-2 to be active and involved,” the statement read.
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Rifle city councilors have begun the process of studying utility rates that will eventually determine whether the city should increase, decrease or keep rates the same.