My letter to the editor represents concerns a great number of people are expressing about how the current Delta County Board of Education is disrespecting and disparaging the direction, the work, and efforts of previous boards of education, administrators and staff.
The concerns started when the newly seated board of education in December moved quickly to terminate a district superintendent who along with the previous boards and staff had created a school direction that had brought about spectacular academic achievement results for students as well as demonstrating outstanding stewardship of public dollars.
This was the same team of hardworking administrators, teachers and support staff that had consistently topped western Colorado in student achievement and growth. This effort was noticed and recognized by two governor awards, two different commissioners of education and the Legacy Foundation that recognized only 14 schools and two school districts for academic excellence.
This was the same team of people that increased preschool opportunities in our county tenfold in five years, moving from 20 to 260 students.
This is the same recently disparaged district and school administration that gained over $21 million of outside support that built or renovated four major school buildings. All of these were built without asking local taxpayers for additional funds or taxes.
This was the same school district that has consistently been in the top 4 percent of the state in getting the highest percentage of money into the classroom. Out of 178 school districts, this school district has never been in less than sixth place in getting the highest percentage of dollars in support of children. This direct support is in the form of salaries/benefits for teachers, aides and classroom material. Since this district is funded in the bottom 5 percent of the state (seventh from the bottom of 178 school districts) this is amazing stewardship of public trust and money, and certainly different than the remarks by Mr. Tom Mingen.
Within a month of Delta County School Board recognition, board members terminated the superintendent of Delta County Schools with 40 years of service solely to Delta County. Since they identified no reason or cause, they simply used taxpayers' dollars to pay him a year's salary to go away so they could create a new direction.
As taxpayers and parents, we are waiting for this new direction to unfold. What was once a proud district that was striving to become unified is now a district of fear, distrust and is polarized by different employment work groups and communities. We currently have over 40 teacher openings, the highest in western Colorado.
The board's direction is not to spend available reserves, but reorganize and cut staff to provide a 1 percent bonus. This amount averages about 70 cents per day for all classified staff and $2 per day for certified staff. This is even more insulting to staff when they believe they can placate or even buy their trust and loyalty for 70 cents a day. This strategy is shortsighted, insulting and fiscally irresponsible.
The district office reorganization is NOT saving money. All directors have been replaced, so it must be personal.
What is the school board vision and focus? Focus is about having a positive direction — not districtwide picnics the people don't want or need. They want and need positive leadership in a risk-free environment.
The school board, with a new direction, is wasting taxpayer dollars by paying two superintendents to do the same job, not focusing on students and unification of our school district. With extreme power and micro-management, the new board has created anxiety, fear and uncertainty. Staff members are applying to other districts by the dozens. Ask them why? School board members are the ones making a difference and it is certainly not a positive one. I agree with many taxpayers that a RECALL should be strongly considered to select board members who will work for the whole district, put their personal agendas aside and place STUDENTS at the heart of their work. We must act as responsible citizens before it is too late.
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