Re-1 board to decide on Haptonstall’s contract
BASALT – The Roaring Fork School District Re-1 Board of Education is set to decide whether, and for how long, to renew its contract with Superintendent Judy Haptonstall when it meets in Basalt Wednesday evening.
On the table is a possible two-year contract extension, which has been the subject of a closed-door performance evaluation and contract negotiations between the school board and Haptonstall in recent weeks.
However, a group of Carbondale parents has been lobbying school board members to consider a probationary one-year renewal option instead.
Their concerns revolve around what they see as a lack of communication about district education policies, and what some have described as an “environment of fear” when it comes to teachers and parents raising issues and concerns to district administration.
Under the parents’ proposal, an extension beyond next year would be subject to a “360-degree” review of Haptonstall’s performance that would include feedback from teachers, parents, school administrators and community members.
“The school board members are elected to oversee the superintendent and to represent the community,” said Re-1 parent and Carbondale resident Erin Rigney.
“This is a big issue, and we’re asking our board of education to be conservative with Judy’s renewal,” she said.
Other Re-1 parents say it would be best to not renew Haptonstall’s contract at all, and begin searching for a new superintendent to lead the district, which includes public schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.
“We have some big changes coming to the district in August,” said Basalt resident and Re-1 parent Stacey Craft, who would prefer the district seek out a new superintendent.
Specifically, she noted that the district is about to implement its “Moving On” student placement model, and the state is also adopting more rigorous education standards.
“Our kids deserve a superintendent who is focused on these changes, someone who is not distracted by the intensive year-long job review that has been proposed by some in the community,” she said.
Several Glenwood Springs parents have also been calling for Haptonstall’s removal in the aftermath of an unpopular decision earlier this spring to suspend Glenwood Springs Elementary School principal Sonya Hemmen and not renew her contract for next year.
That decision was upheld by the school board, which declined to reveal the specific reasons behind Hemmen’s suspension.
Rigney said the one-year contract option is a compromise that, with the 360 review, provides a platform for a broader evaluation of the district’s leadership under Haptonstall.
Haptonstall is ending her fourth year as the District Re-1 superintendent. Her previous contract, approved in April 2009, included a salary of $146,265.
Wednesday’s school board meeting takes place in the Basalt High School library, and will include an executive session to continue discussion of Haptonstall’s contract at 2:45 p.m. The meeting includes an open forum section for public comments at 5:30 p.m., which is when parents plan to make their case with regards to the contract renewal issue.
The board is scheduled to decide on the superintendent’s contract soon after the public comment period.
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