MEEKER I At its May 5 meeting, the big ticket items for the Meeker Board of Education (BOE) were the hiring of a new high school principal and filling the vacant academic coordinator position.
Chris Selle, who doesn’t actually take on his new superintendent responsibilities here until July 1, made his recommendations by letter and by phone during the meeting. Selle had been directed by BOE President Bill deVergie to take a leadership role in selecting these new hires.
Selle named Kelly Boren, currently an assistant principal and athletic director at Carson Middle School in the Fountain-Fort Carson School District, as his high school principal choice.
The school is on the Fort Carson Army base, has military and civilian students, and is located 10 miles northwest of the town of Fountain and south of Colorado Springs.
Selle stated that two primary needs surfaced during the interviews in which he personally participated, making a special trip to Meeker for that purpose on April 27. Those two factors, Selle wrote, were being an experienced administrator and being a person who would like to stay in Meeker for several years.
Boren has nearly 20 years of administrative experience as a principal and assistant principal in large as well as rural school districts. The BOE, without any discussion, approved Boren’s hiring on a 7-0 vote.
Boren has previously served as principal at Thompson Middle School in Loveland, Colo., and in Rock Springs, Wyo., where he had 65 teachers and 30 classified staff under his supervision. He holds a master’s in education administration from the University of Northern Arizona, and two bachelor of science degrees in secondary education and chemistry from the University of Wyoming.
Immediately on the heels of the Boren recommendation, Selle recommended the board hire current Meeker Superintendent Mark Meyer to fill the academic coordinator position beginning July 1. With no further discussion, the board approved Selle’s recommendation on a 5-2 vote with board members Bud Ridings and Todd Shults voting “no.”
Shults told the Herald Times later that he couldn’t see how having the outgoing superintendent working across the hall from the new superintendent would be a positive environment.
“The new superintendent has an opportunity to turn things around, to build some trust, why would we hire the old superintendent to weigh him down?,” Shults added, “Meyer had told us he no longer wanted to be here, that he wanted to be over on the Front Range closer to his own kids and a soon to arrive grandchild.”
Selle, on the other hand, wrote to the board that his decision was based on what he believed would have “the greatest and quickest positive impact on student learning … that Meyer has demonstrated the ability to implement programs and procedures that have strong positive impacts on student learning…and that Meyer will be able to influence student learning more significantly and efficiently” than the other candidate who interviewed for the position.
Selle added that “due to the unique nature of this hire,” he and Meyer had already discussed the need for them “to ensure we are clear about roles and responsibilities … and that he will need to work to restore professional working relationships that have been strained in the past few months. Upon my permanent arrival in Meeker, he and I will engage in further conversation about how to best meet these needs.”
The job description for the coordinator of academics (CoA) states that the individual will be responsible for assisting with the development and implementation of federal programs including Title I reading and math instruction and Title III English Language Learners program with a focus on improving instruction quality and student achievement. The CoA is to provide proactive support to schools, participate in program evaluation and work collaboratively with community and school stakeholders to increase student achievement.
Specific CoA job functions, in addition, include acquiring state and local grants; coordinating student assessment; assisting in the analysis and management of student, teacher, and school data; student counts; coordinating curriculum through a council of administrators and teachers; be a contributing member of the administrative leadership team; providing training and ongoing professional development for all instructors; teacher induction and mentoring; and assisting with curriculum purchasing needs. According to Selle, the CoA position is considered a teacher on special assignment position with the salary based on the teacher salary schedule.
In other business, the board reviewed possible cost savings based on shortening a few school bus routes. Meyer recommended, however, that only the Strawberry Creek route be shortened to Wilson Creek as there are no longer any families with school age children living beyond that point. The board approved.
Several families attended the April 21 board meeting from Piceance Creek and upriver (County Road 8) expressing their opposition to shortening either route.
Also discussed was the possibility of establishing a sales tax to help close the district’s budget gap. Meyer reported that a sales tax could only be instituted through either the town or the county. To achieve the nearly $1 million annual increase the board was seeking with their proposed mill levy override last fall, the impact via sales tax, Meyer said, would be too onerous given current levels. Board members Mindy Burke and Tom Allen indicated that via their conversations with community and mill levy override committee members, the general advice was to hold off two or three years before trying to achieve any general revenue increases, and to spend down the board’s reserve in the meantime.
There was agreement that the size of the reserve had a negative effect on the mill levy override proposal.
Member Marnell Bradfield agreed, but expressed dismay and disappointment that education always seems to get short shrift. She urged that education be given a higher priority by the community.
On the half of the district’s old town swimming pool property put up to sealed bid, Meyer reported that one bid for the nearly one-acre property on the edge of town just downhill from the high school had been received. It was a $4,000 bid from John Ruder.
Meyer recommended action on the sale be tabled until the May 19 school board meeting. The board agreed.