Despite assurances to staff in a letter from Delta County School District superintendent Jerre Doss, criticism was pointed and emotions ran deep at the May 15 school board meeting, which was held at Crawford. During public comment, citizens and district staff members expressed dismay as they voiced questions about numerous changes implemented since former superintendent Mike McMillan resigned in January.
Doss and district board members were sharply criticized for, among other things: the handling of the search for a new superintendent; the low salary offered to candidates; budget cuts and their negative effects on staff; changes in curriculum; and the recent dismissal of district employees, including curriculum director Connie Vincent and Delta-Montrose Technical College director John Jones, a 19-year employee whose contract will not be renewed. Speakers questioned the board about its rationale for restructuring of the district, and two accused those at the top of intimidation.
The ongoing restructuring at the district level took an unexpected turn when district business manager Terry Kimber announced he will resign at the end of his contract on June 30. Kimber was one of five speakers to address the school board during the time reserved for public comments.
"I have loved my job here at the district and would never have thought about resigning, but I can no longer work for a place that values politics over our students," Kimber said. "Fear and intimidation are not the way to run any business, but most of all, a business where we are involved in teaching the community's children."
Kimber said that when he took over as finance director, it was in the red by $755. At the end of 2011, the district had $1 million in reserves "to help smooth out the cuts from the state."
Despite the turnaround, Kimber was not asked for input on dealing with the budget shortfall anticipated for 2012-13.
"This is how things operate in our district now," said Kimber, adding that many employees fear being fired by Doss and "personal agendas... have gotten in the way of what is good for kids."
Kimber received a standing ovation from the crowd and from board member Tammy Smith.
Shortly after all comments were heard, board member Pete Blair interjected that he was upset about Kimber's resignation. "I don't know what caused this resignation, but I think we need to rectify it," he said.
Asked by the DCI if he would consider staying on, Kimber replied, "No, absolutely not."
The DCI later learned Kimber has accepted a job as chief financial officer of the Widefield School District near Colorado Springs.
Teacher Jackie Trueblood, a "soon-to-be former employee" of the district, read a list of concerns that included Vincent's dismissal. The crowd cheered when Trueblood asked pointedly why she was dismissed, and accused the board of not supporting the new curriculum. "If you have truly chosen to move forward with this curriculum process, why are you getting rid of the one person who knows the most about it and who has led the teachers who developed it?"
The district was once on its way to the top, and it's falling apart, said Trueblood, who received a standing ovation.
Regarding the curriculum, "You've got to give it a try before you condemn it," said Smith in closing comments. Otherwise, the criticism is unfair. She reminded everyone that the teachers are the ones writing the curriculum, "and we've always said that we have outstanding staff."blog comments powered by Disqus