Impassioned and emotional public comment given to the Estes Park School District Board of Education, over the Separation Agreement between the District and former Superintendent Sheldon Rosenkrance.
Letter sent to the board signed by 149 educators, community members, parents, and stakeholders almost not read aloud. Hear the public comments in today's podcast.
Last night the Estes Park School District Board of Education met for the first regular public meeting after a special meeting was convened last week to execute a ‘Mutual Separation Agreement’ reached between the School District and former Superintendent Sheldon Rosenkrance.
Approximately 16 community members spoke during the public comment section of the meeting. Most were very concerned about the direction the board has taken since the recent election.
The Separation Agreement costs that were obtained by the Colorado Switchblade last Friday (Costing in total: $166,490.18.) via a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) were a large part of those concerns.
I have included most of the public comments (I was a few minutes late and came in as someone was already speaking. But I have included in the podcast all of the public comments that I was there for. (You can jump to them at the 23-minute mark of the podcast.)
I also read in its entirety a letter penned originally by 149 community members and now has 152 signators. This letter almost was not read aloud at the meeting but instead just added to the public letter. Here it is in its entirety:
Good evening Estes Park School District Board of Education,
The recent separation between our school district and superintendent Sheldon Rosenkrance has caught us off guard and left us with numerous questions regarding the cause of the separation and the direction the school board intends to take the school district. Since the newly elected board members ran their campaign on transparency, public communication and community engagement, we would imagine you will all welcome the questions we have and will respond to us with your honest answers. Below is our list of questions that, as community members, parents, taxpayers and stakeholders, we feel need to be addressed:
* What was the reason for instigating a Separation Agreement with Mr. Rosenkrance which resulted in letting him go?
* The Separation Agreement has been made public, so we can see the amount of money the district paid out to Mr Rosenkrance. $152,203 severance pay, as well as $14,287 in unpaid leave, totaling $166,490. There must have been legal consultations and fees leading up to the creation of the Separation Agreement. We would like to know how much total has been spent thus far to remove Sheldon Rosenkrance as superintendent of our school district?
* Why was there such a rush to remove Mr Rosenkrance from his position before the end of the school year? Considering all of his reviews with our school district (over the past 8 years) were positive, taking the well being of our students and staff seriously, why now?
* There are currently numerous schools in Colorado looking for a new superintendent. Mr. Rosenkrance had made it public knowledge earlier this spring that he had applied at another school district. Considering that, it would appear that it would have only been a matter of time before he would have applied and accepted a job at another school district. Again, why now and at the cost of $166,490 plus legal fees to the taxpayers? It seems this money would have been better spent on teacher salaries or programs to support the students.
* Why was Mr. Rosenkrance removed effective immediately? There were only 28 school days left in the school year. Why was he not allowed to finish the school year?
We realize there are some of these questions you are not able to answer under the terms of the Separation Agreement. The Separation Agreement has been signed and we must now move forward together as a district and community. So equally important are our questions to you regarding the direction you plan to take from here on out. As quickly as Mr. Rosenkrance was removed, we are worried he will be replaced just as quickly and with no public input. We are curious if you plan to take our school district in a different direction? Or build and improve on the existing programs?
* Knowing that numerous other schools within the state are looking for superintendents, how do you plan to keep our School District competitive in finding a qualified superintendent? Do you plan to do a nationwide search, to ensure we get qualified candidates?
* When Sheldon Rosenkrance was hired 8 years ago, the board asked for public input, feedback and participation. How do you plan to include the public in the decision making process on deciding on a new superintendent? How transparent will you be about this process?
* We can all agree that the safety and well-being of all students should be a priority. How will you work with the administration, teachers, staff and community to ensure all kids are safe and protected physically, mentally and emotionally?
* In 2017 the district asked for community engagement and feedback on how they would like the district to move forward and what the community felt was important to the future of education. Over 300 community members were involved and the outcome was the district’s “Global Outcomes”. Over the years we have seen the teachers embrace these global outcomes and implement them in their lesson plans and how they teach the students. Do you plan to keep and move forward with the Global Outcomes? If not, how do you plan to change our district’s culture?
* Since implementing the “Global Outcomes” we have seen many innovative programs come to fruition within our district. These were supported by Mr. Rosenkrance, the administration and teachers/staff. Trout in the Classroom, the Bee Project, Aquatic Robotics, Culinary Arts Class, Construction Geometry and the whole CTE building to name a few. Will these innovative programs continue to be a priority to the board? If not, what will they be replaced with?
* Are all board members currently attending the district’s accountability meetings to familiarize themselves with the current curriculum and programs being offered within the district? We feel this is especially important before making any additional changes to the district as there are so many great things going on within the district. It is a great way to maintain programs that are working and improve on what might need adjusted.
Thank you in advance for your response to this letter and answering the questions we as your stakeholders deem are important. The role of a school board is to ensure that the school district is responsive to the values, beliefs, and priorities of their community. Thank you for your time.
Estes Park School District community members, parents, tax payers and stakeholders:
If any community members care to submit thier own CORA request they can do so at the following link: PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST (CORA)