Haptonstall to remain as Re-1 superintendent
BASALT – Judy Haptonstall will continue as superintendent of the Roaring Fork School District Re-1 for another two years, subject to an annual review and at the same $146,265 yearly salary she has had since she took the job four years ago.
The Re-1 school board, meeting Wednesday at Basalt High School in order to attend a pre-graduation event there later that evening, voted 3-1 to stick with Haptonstall for the standard two-year period.
“I am pleased and proud to offer this contract to Ms. Haptonstall,” Re-1 board member Myles Rovig said. “I think Judy is our best choice right now to move this district forward.”
Especially with the many changes coming to public education, both in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt schools and on a broader scale, Rovig said it’s best to not make an administrative change at this time.
In agreeing to the two-year deal, the board rejected a proposal put forward by some parents in the district for a one-year contract extension, coupled with a “360” performance review based on input from teachers, principals and community members.
The board also addressed what some critics say is a lack of communication about district policies and educational goals from the district office, and concerns that teachers and parents don’t feel comfortable raising issues.
“Some of that is perceived, while some may be real,” board member Bill Lamont said. “We as a board are committed to our constituents to begin developing a system of communication where people can confidentially share their concerns about the district.
“We do need to find out where these areas of legitimate concern are, and begin to address them,” he said.
Board member Debbie Bruell, though she was open to a shorter-term contract option and voted against the two-year extension, said she was pleased with the board’s commitment to open more lines of communication.
“I’m disappointed in the outcome of the vote,” she said. “However, I am very pleased that the board agreed to hearing concerns from community members, administrators and teachers confidentially. I think that is a big step forward and it will help some essential information reach the board members.”
Several school principals and other district staff offered their support for Haptonstall and agreed that her leadership is crucial in implementing some of the instructional changes that are planned in Re-1 schools.
“I have found Judy to be someone who has been extremely open with me, and she has been instrumental in the success of our school,” Basalt Middle School Principal Jeremy Voss said. “It would be very scary for me if we were changing direction at this point.”
Crystal River Elementary School Principal Karen Olson also supported the full two-year contract renewal for Haptonstall.
She said the one-year option with a 360 review seemed like a “knee-jerk” reaction that could end up being more distracting than useful.
“The deeper issue is the communication,” Olson said. “There are better ways to do that.”
Paula Marr of Glenwood Springs, who works as an instructional facilitator for Re-1, said she’s been embarrassed by some of the negative comments in letters to the editor and elsewhere about Haptonstall.
“A lot of what’s going on is pure gossip and slander,” Marr said. “Who knows better about Judy’s performance and professionalism than the people who work with her.”
But Basalt resident and Re-1 parent Stacey Craft said the fear among parents and teachers about speaking up is real. She pointed to a recent teacher survey in which only 55 percent of respondents from one Re-1 school said they felt comfortable raising issues and concerns.
“There can be no positive change if teachers and parents don’t feel comfortable expressing their ideas,” Craft said in calling for the board to not renew Haptonstall’s contract.
Haptonstall, meanwhile, was pleased to hear the supportive comments.
“I’m pleased to be with the district for another two years,” she said of the board’s decision. “We have a lot of important work to do.”
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