Roaring Fork School District delays decision on contracts |

Roaring Fork School District delays decision on contracts

Bob Ward
Aspen Journalism

The Roaring Fork School District Board of Education will consider four employment contracts at its meeting today, but don’t expect a decision on any of them, yet.

When the board meets at Basalt High School at 5:30 p.m., four contracts involving three key individuals will be up for consideration. The individuals are Superintendent Diana Sirko, Assistant Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer Rob Stein, and Assistant Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer Shannon Pelland.

The board is expected to meet personally and privately with each of these administrators to discuss their draft contracts. But a final vote on each agreement will have to wait for another day, according to a statement issued Monday by the district.

“We hoped to be in a position to vote on the contracts this week, but we are just not quite there yet,” said Board President Daniel Biggs in the announcement. “We are engaging in a careful and deliberate process as we develop contracts that secure our team for now and strong district leadership into the future.”

In early December, board members were faced with an awkward situation when two of the district’s top administrators — Sirko and Stein — ended up in contention for the position of superintendent. Sirko, the current superintendent, had asked the board for a three-year extension to her contract, which expires in June, but a group of parents objected, saying they had expected Stein to succeed Sirko at the end of Sirko’s current tenure.

At a crowded public meeting Dec. 10, board members announced a tentative compromise: a two-year contract for Sirko and a five-year contract for Stein, with two years in his current position under Sirko and three subsequent years as superintendent.

According to Monday’s statement, Stein’s proposed five-year commitment has been split into two contracts: a two-year deal for his current position and a separate deal for the following three years. A new contract with Pelland, who has been the district’s financial chief for many years, was not part of the public discussion in December. But Monday’s announcement from the district said a three-year contract with Pelland is now under consideration, alongside those of Sirko and Stein.

Biggs explained Monday that the board is seeking to create “a framework, an architecture” around the entire district management team that can endure beyond any particular personnel change. The parties are taking time to make all of the contracts clear, to carefully define the roles and responsibilities of each position and eliminate any confusion, he said.

“We’re not going to be bound by any arbitrary timelines,” Biggs said. “We want to make sure everything is done right.”

As part of the effort to secure the district’s current leadership team, Biggs said the board also will consider hiring an independent management consultant.

“We have a great team with extraordinary talent and we want to make sure we handle this in the best possible way,” Biggs added.

The board meeting is scheduled to run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., although the discussions with Sirko, Stein and Pelland will take place behind closed doors.

Aspen Journalism and The Aspen Times are collaborating on coverage of education in the Roaring Fork Valley. More at


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