Superintendent survey in hands of Re-1 staff |

Superintendent survey in hands of Re-1 staff

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Approximately 700 Roaring Fork Re-1 School District employees were formally invited Wednesday to complete a 360-degree online survey as part of the Re-1 school board’s performance evaluation of Superintendent Judy Haptonstall.

The survey is being administered by the Utah-based management consulting firm DecisionWise for a cost of $2,750, school board members confirmed at a special Tuesday meeting.

District employees from Glenwood Springs to Basalt are asked to complete the voluntary survey by Dec. 9. The results are to be tabulated by the consultants and presented to the school board in time for a special Dec. 16 board retreat and special meeting.

The board has said it expects to make a decision regarding Haptonstall’s contract at that meeting.

Haptonstall, who is five months into an extended two-year contract that was approved last spring, is being evaluated anew after three new school board members were elected Nov. 1.

Some of the new board members have questioned Haptonstall’s leadership, based on concerns expressed during the campaign that the ability of district employees, parents and others to speak up on issues has allegedly been suppressed.

A 360 review is a common tool in evaluating employees in business and government organizations, allowing input from supervisors and peers and subordinates.

The Re-1 survey asks employees to rate Haptonstall’s performance in several areas, including business acumen, decision-making, planning and organization, integrity and trust, innovation, communication, leadership skills and teamwork.

It also asks if there are any “derailers” that could serve to undermine results, such as lack of focus, lack of trust, micromanaging, volatility and closed-mindedness.

Meanwhile, a districtwide audit intended to evaluate and provide recommendations on the broader internal and external communications by the district is on hold until the board can complete its review of Haptonstall.

Former school board member Bill Lamont, who volunteered to organize the audit working with a consultant from the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB), said it makes sense to wait until the political dust settles.

“Consultant Jennifer Reeve with CASB recommended that the audit be postponed until the situation with the superintendent is clarified and the focus could again be on the larger issue of how the district communicates internally and externally,” Lamont said in a written statement issued Wednesday.

The audit was first proposed last May when the board renewed Haptonstall’s contract, in response to public concerns that adequate communication of district policies and procedures was lacking.

The audit was postponed until after the Nov. 1 mill levy override election, when local voters approved $4.8 million in new property taxes to backfill losses in state funding for Re-1 schools in recent years.

The Aspen Community Foundation and another local organization, the Manaus Fund, agreed to fund the communications audit.

The new board agreed at its first meeting Nov. 9 to proceed with the audit, and will likely discuss timing for the audit at its Dec. 14 meeting.

Regarding the ongoing evaluation of Haptonstall, in addition to the employee survey the school board is also encouraging community members to offer their observations, either publicly at school board meetings or privately in one-on-one meetings with school board members.

At the meeting Tuesday, the only public comment made was in support of Haptonstall.

“This district has a lot of programs and activities, and things that no other district has,” former Re-1 school principal Patrick Henry said. “Most of that is due to Judy’s leadership and vision.”

Henry also urged caution as the board weighs its decision about Haptonstall’s future with the district.

“My biggest fear is that this board, at least the three new members, will spend the next month providing an illusion of inclusiveness and investigation, when all you’re really doing is providing bullets to justify a decision that you already made before you were elected,” he said. “To me that’s not leadership … and I challenge you to be leaders. You need to become a part of this board, not take it over.”

In other business at the Tuesday meeting, the school board:

• Approved a proposal by the McRel education services organization to do a third-party evaluation of Re-1’s Moving On program, which places students based on their level of academic achievement rather than grade level.

• Began the process to determine where and how the new mill levy override funds might be used during the current budget year, and to start planning for the 2012-13 budget.

District principals will be surveyed to determine where the extra funds could be used this year to reinstate some of the programs and services that had been cut from the budget in recent years.

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