Parents call for input on contract renewal of Re-1 superintendent
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – As the Roaring Fork School District board of education weighs the renewal of Superintendent Judy Haptonstall’s contract, one thing is clear: Not everyone thinks she should be a shoe-in for an extended stint at the helm, at least not without some community input.
“We’ve been putting our heart and soul into our school and this district, and how to make it better,” said parent and Carbondale resident Erin Rigney, addressing the board on Wednesday night. “And we feel like we need to get a pulse on how people feel about the administration.
“We would like to have some input in Judy’s review,” she said.
Rigney and a small group of parents pleaded with the board to exercise restraint in offering Haptonstall a new contract. In fact, the parents suggested a one-year contract during which time an in-depth – or 360-degree – review of Haptonstall’s performance could be launched. Such a review would include feedback from teachers, parents, administrators and the community at large.
“This is something common to management positions, and I think you can learn something you don’t already know – both positive and negative – through the process,” said parent Matt Hamilton, adding that his employer uses such 360 reviews to positive results.
“If one person tells you something, that is a point of view,” he said. “If a few are, it could be a trend. But then you can set up an improvement plan.”
Those addressing the board had several ideas about where things could be improved, but focused on concerns surrounding communication.
“What I am seeing as a big lack is the communication. For example, with Judy’s review, we’ve really had no say and no way of reaching anyone on the board,” said parent Kira Kearsey, echoing the other parents’ sentiment that their intention is not necessarily to see Haptonstall removed from her position, but rather to have her performance adequately evaluated.
Haptonstall acknowledged Thursday that “because of the nature of business” there are fewer formal meetings with district-level administrators.
However, she said there are “lots of avenues for communicating with school administrators.” She went on to outline several opportunities for the two groups to talk, from community meetings and small-group meetings to emails and phone calls.
Parents also expressed concern about what some have called an environment of “fear” between teachers and administrators.
Haptonstall said she does not believe this is the case.
“We have a lot of interaction with staff as well as a number of ways for staff to either communicate with us directly or anonymously,” she said in a followup interview on Thursday.
“In the 12 years we have been doing our interest-based negotiations, that has never come up as a concern. I meet monthly with the union president, and again that has never come up as a concern. I meet monthly with teacher reps from every building who can bring issues to the table without revealing who might have voiced the issue, and the notion of people being fearful has never come up.”
The fate of Haptonstall’s contract is now with the board, which discussed the matter in executive session Wednesday night. The board will vote on the contract renewal at the May 25 school board meeting, which is to be held at Basalt High School.
“We hear what you’re saying, and we will take this all into consideration,” said board president Bob Johnson, in wrapping up the public comment segment of Wednesday’s meeting and thanking the parents in attendance.
Haptonstall is ending her sixth year as superintendent of the district, which encompasses schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt. Her previous contract, approved in April 2009, included a salary of $146,265.
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Perhaps it’s because we are in the abbreviated days of winter and I instinctively know that the sun is shining down-under. But every January I go through a nostalgic period where Australian wine dominates my mind.